Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
malkav11
Aug 7, 2009


He should really realize he can't actually trust either Jasmine or Marco. Marco's got some sort of unspecified high caliber expertise and they may live together but I doubt he knows all Marco's secrets or past. And Jasmine he certainly used to know, but there's apparently been a number of years as adults they've not been around each other at all. Plenty of time for her to develop other relationships, experience traumas that lead to psychotic revenge plans, or whatever other dark secrets.

Not that they're looking the most suspicious right now, just they shouldn't be ruled out just because he thinks of them as friends.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Ignatius M. Meen
May 26, 2011

Hello yes I heard there was a lovely trainwreck here and...



Well, sure, in death games you can't really rule anyone out except yourself, but A's comment is "And if the one I suspect to be the accomplice is Smiley himself, then... I have no doubt he wouldn't even think twice before killing you, your friends, and everyone else." He clearly thinks Smiley is a man, and that the accomplice is a man as well, thus that it's not impossible that the accomplice is also Smiley. Or at the least, that's the clear hint he's chosen to drop. If he thought Smiley and the accomplice were different genders from each other, or both women, there's no way that statement makes sense, so that leaves Marco and Ray taking the comment at face value. He of course could be very wrong about Smiley or the accomplice being a man vs. a woman, but then at that point he could also be wrong about the accomplice being Simon's friend and then everyone's a suspect. If we stick to the 'acquaintance' language, well... A is now rather a bit of an acquaintance, in fact much more so than the twins and arguably Ray as well.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



I mean, using the generic he for the Zero is a pretty common thing, even when the Zero may or may not be a he.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





BGM: Ambient Strain


You were gone for quite a while! Many of us wondered if we should just go ahead and keep exploring, since it looked as if you'd gone to do that.

I didn't mind being chided by Jasmine this time, but it was still slightly embarrassing. Despite that, I remembered what A had told me: we shouldn't share our information.

We took a long stroll, what can I say? How about we take a small pause and then head out afterwards?

Sounds good by me.

Okay, that's fine, but not too long. There's little to do here anymore, and unlike you two, we've been holed up here the whole time.

This was just my investigation, disguised as an offer to take a bit of a longer break. I needed to keep watch for anything that could point me in the direction of the accomplice, if they even existed.



Most of all, I wanted to leave this place alive with my friends.



G was staring at H as if trying to accuse her of something, but I disregarded their little talk about their school disputes. I wanted solid material. I left them alone with Marco and A.

BGM: Anaphora Solution
Still, the fact I'd been harassed by the cool guys during my own bad time at school might've played a part in why I was this afraid of things.



I shouldn't have given it that much attention, and instead focused on simply getting out of here, but I had an irresistible desire to know. It was like if you were given a box with a button on top. If you're told not to press it, wouldn't you get the desire to do so to see what would happen?

The natural course of action is to not take unnecessary risks, so you wouldn't push it, of course. That's the safest path and nothing would happen. You'd simply resume your normal life. But... there's a ghost that will haunt you from that day onward.

If the encounter had been memorable, you'll keep wondering, “What if I had pushed the button? Maybe I would have gained riches beyond my understanding. Maybe I would've gained immortality. Maybe I would've gained superpowers. Maybe it's just a button that did nothing at all.”



A bit like... if you learn something, you can't unlearn it. If I didn't check what's in there, it would nag at me eternally, but it was definitely dangerous. Which one was the worse fate? So long as I didn't run headfirst into an abyss of darkness...

BGM: Ambient Strain


This took me out of my daydream. Right, the ninth person... I glanced over at A who didn't even stare back in my direction.

If we didn't, I'd like to head out now to investigate other places. There are stations we haven't searched yet.

That's correct. According to the map the twins have found...

He took it out of his bag. Most likely, he'd taken possession of it when he spoke with the twins. It seemed A had more success in his investigation than I had.

That's because you sat on a couch and dissociated for like ten minutes, Simon :v:

All eyes on him, he continued.



That sounds dangerous.

Indeed. In the other direction, east than northward, we have two more stations: the church and the theater. In total, that makes five... which even if we split up and covered them all, would leave one to be seen.

I thought something was wrong with this map. There were a lot more stations than this in the metro. Did Smiley just run out of themes? If each location was themed around a single thing, then maybe that was the case. Perhaps his influence only extended to this much.

BGM: Algorithm Simile


That's assuming Smiley spoke to them too, I think.

Well, no. Think about it. If they're Smiley, they'll want to avoid capture. If they're an accomplice to Smiley, they would want to avoid us as well. The only scenario where the ninth person would want to be found, would be if it was one among us, and we are all here. All eight of us.

So your plan would be to have us also move around?



Any objections?

Nobody spoke. I didn't know what E thought of his plan, but he resumed before I could ask her. I frowned a little; he was moving a little quickly... I thought he might have wanted to personally inspect everyone else to make sure they weren't Smiley or his accomplice.

Very good, then. Let us form the teams.

I wanted to go explore a new room, so I figured he'd take E, leaving me to go with someone else. The team on guard duty would most likely involve E because there would be no puzzle room to solve. However, he requested to go with H, to which G vehemently opposed.



Understandable, but there is an issue. I have come to the conclusion that we would be better off pairing with others we're less familiar with. It might give us insight we would've never gotten otherwise.

He flashed a reassuring smile. The twin ended up agreeing.

Fine. I get that we're all in this together, and if we want to leave, we'll need every bit of knowledge we can get.

As long as I don't have to go with the pink witch.

Jasmine shrugged at everyone else under that nickname.



I believe you should go with E. I know you may want to explore another station, but... please keep an eye on her, and go through the ones we already explored. She wouldn't be very helpful in a puzzle room, and that way you can make sure nobody forgot to find something... either voluntarily, or not.

By the time I nodded, the deliberations coming from the other four were over.



Trying to find out what links us all here, too?

Something like that, now shut up.

A bit of heat rushed to my head, as if I was getting angry. Partially, it was also envy; I did want to go with Jasmine but I understood the weight of what I knew.

I'm okay with it, and that way, G can go with M.

The two others looked at each other. Marco looked extremely awkward. Despite his usual, most likely fake confidence, he was really bad at meeting new people, especially if they weren't in his age range.

Then it's settled! Let us make way for the train. Although, I suppose our fourth group might want to go the other way, yes?

Why's that?



BGM: Abyssal Snarl


So long as you don't stick to the train for too long, or else it'll take you somewhere you can't come back from. Once our three teams are done, we'll go back and fetch you.

Yeah, hopefully that's fine.

Let's go already.

The earlier we go, the earlier we're out.

All of them left after brief farewells, leaving the two of us alone. In a way, I wasn't too mad about going out with E... though wording it that way was embarrassing on some level.

:rolleyes:



BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
Finally, I finished telling her everything. As I'd heard no train pass by, the ninth person wouldn't be getting by us yet. Still, I remembered what A had told me: the ninth person may very well be stationary, too. I didn't truly believe they were mobile, so... I was probably going to explore a station regardless.

Let us go now! We have wasted enough time. The others have been gone for a while, right?

Even if she couldn't see me, I nodded. Force of habit.

I took her to the other side of the station, down the stairs, into the lobby. Beyond it was the station. Then, we waited for the train in silence. I had very little to tell her. Instead, I tried to think about how I would tackle this strange endeavor.

I wanted to try and unlock the door, but with limited chances, it wouldn't go so well. Re-exploring that station was also a waste of time, so I ignored it on our trajectory. Instead, we were going to explore...



When the train arrived, I stepped in it with E. This entire trip would be a little boring. I didn't really have anything to tell E at the moment, and nothing much happened. The doors closed.

BGM: Silence


As the train left the station, I suddenly remembered what it would be. Right, it was a security room. The footage from the cameras looked pretty interesting to search. Maybe I'd find some secret.

Knowledge is power, huh. If I learned something A wanted to know, maybe I could use that and get him to admit everything he's doing. “Need-to-know” basis, my rear end...

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
I grumbled to myself in Ray fashion before the train came to a stop. Grabbing E's hand, I pulled her out of the train and we both made for the staircase. Suddenly, I felt a shiver. This was dangerous. I didn't know anything of what was up these staircases. We could only be two at these stations, so...



She nodded to me, understanding, and I was off into the lobby. Up the stairs...



In the middle of the room, there was a computer. I tried accessing it and I found some files. There was a second room, and I'd get to it, but this seemed promising. I found many files, but they were all named gibberish and they were all encoded, too. I couldn't watch any of them, even if they clearly were video footage.

What is this screen looking at..? What am I seeing?

There was only one screen turned on, and the footage showed parts of a spacious room. There was a large arch right in front of the camera. On it hung some kind of hooked object. Nothing was happening in the view. I figured no one went through that room.

Either the theater or the church, then...



Sure, there were electronics, but nothing was functional. When solved, that room probably shut down on its own.





I blushed a little at that accusation. Was this the time for teasing? What was up with these women doing this to me all the time? First Jasmine, now E...

:rolleyes:

I took her hand to pull her over as the train arrived.

Oh, are we done here? No more spying?

If this had been Marco, I would've punched his shoulder.

BGM: Silence






BGM: Ambient Strain


I didn't know how to use any of the devices in the room. I decided not to try even if I felt that curious need pulling at me again. There was still no sign of a password. I found various items like a tablet, but it wasn't in order. Some other things stood out. Remnants of the puzzle they had to solve here.

I reclined on a bed for a minute or so. It was rather comfortable. Still, I had a job to do, so I left the area and went down to the lobby.



Oh, I know all this! I came to this room earlier with Agnos. He solved most of it, but I did help a little. He let me touch an object and I guessed it had to do with opening a door due to the button layout. The back had some Braille too, even if he didn't let me read that part.



But you should've taken me up there too. Given my state, I need an operation, stat. You can be the doctor, right?

She smiled and hid it halfway behind a hand. Perhaps I hadn't avoided the tease, in the end.



In the train, I took a seat much like E did. I crossed my arms and decided to think over the subject of our names as Agnos finally became revealed to me.

BGM: Silence




Why would she want to hide her name? Or my name? They weren't really rare names. It wouldn't really identify us, except for Agnos. That was a weird name. Jasmine had made them up at his suggestion... It wasn't like I knew E, G, and H's names either. Maybe it was also a problem for one of them. I was curious, but I didn't feel right asking the first of that lineup.

I had the opportunity, but neither the courage or the willingness to be rude. I didn't want to ruin her companionship. She was... comfortable. Not really nice, not really annoying, just comfortable. That was the best way to describe how I felt with her around.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


How many hours had it been since I arrived here? It must have been a few at least. That sandwich I found and consumed was fairly far in the past now. Come to think of it, I blindly trusted that sandwich, didn't I?

BGM: Alarming Silence
What if it had been poisoned? I shuddered at the thought while I waited for the train to arrive at the last of the four stations we were to re-explore. Unfortunately, I spent a little too long thinking about it.

BGM: Silence




Crap! If the ninth person was at that gym station, then they would have avoided my notice. What were the chances of them being there anyway? What were the chances of there being a mobile person at all?

BGM: Ambient Strain


I disembarked with E, and then I explained to her how this wasn't an old station but a new one, using a piece of paper which came from a quickly dwindling supply in my bag.



Come to think of it, I couldn't really tell her age, but she looked remarkably young. I did believe she was the “slightly older adult”, so maybe she was still in her late twenties. I wondered what she did. Did she study? Did she have a job? I wanted to ask her, but in the immediate, I couldn't do it. We needed to hurry up if we wanted to solve this room quickly.

I'll ask her after we're done here.

We entered the lobby. The door closed behind us as usual. Wasting no time, we went up the stairs. What greeted us when we arrived up there was strange. I knew what the speakers had said on the way here: they talked about a “church”. However, never in my wildest dreams would I have figured out...



I haven't been in a church for a long, long time. And this is a big place.

I looked up; the ceiling was very, very high. A part of me wanted to stick around to appreciate the architecture, but we were pressed for time.

Huh? A church? How weird... I don't know how much use I can be. If you find anything, let me know.

Using a sheet of paper, I shared with her my first impression. E sat on a bench following her words, and I was free to look around the place.



BGM: Active Search


As always, checking out the map first:



There's not a lot to look at this time, so I'll start with the stuff in the foreground- the pillars and the pews.



It's not a really big room... Even if it's tall and wide, it's not as tall and wide as churches you might find in a city. I wonder if this means I'm not over the ground here, either...

I remembered what I'd thought about in the library. The windows there were non-existent, but this place had a few of them in the back and a few more along the walls, between pillars. Was it the same here? Were we confined here too?



That's way too high. I hope we don't need to bring it down, because I will never be able to reach up there. Even Jasmine can't reach it, and she's really tall. Maybe if we were several people, we could all hold each other in a tower and...



Considering the blind and deaf girl near me, I thought it was an appropriate reference, since we couldn't communicate together well. E was sitting on one of the benches. That's right... she looked a little lonely.

Maybe I should talk to her... and finally ask her about what she does in life. If I can somehow tie that together to what I know already...



I had to cling onto any piece of information that could help me understand Smiley's motive. We weren't grabbed without reason, right?



And now we have the option to talk to E :eng101: I'm gonna poke around the stage first, though, starting with a pot sitting on one of those shelves.

That's incense. If it was out of the jar of incense, it would be called a jar of outcense.



Outcense? What is... oh.



:rolleyes: Aaaaanyway, there's still some other stuff on the stage.

What's this thing called again? It's not a lectern... The clergy uses a special ecclesiastical nomenclature. Was it... oh, right! It's called a pulpit. And interestingly, this one's got something on the surface. Three lines of text are engraved.



This definitely has to do with the card suits in the back.



So, I haven't shown it because there's been no opportunity to until now, but if you've already examined something in one of these sequences, it gets a little checkmark. This also shows up for the scenes where you choose someone to talk to, so if you hit those scenes while going for a different route, you know who you've already spoken to. It's just that usually after you investigate a point of interest, the option to look at it is removed, so... :shrug: Before we look at the rest of the stuff in the room, let's talk to E some more.





I decided to sit on the bench next to her and allow her that much.

BGM: Ascertaining Speech


:v:

There are two families: the Jones and the Smiths. Their family name doesn't really matter, its just for difference. The two families have two kids.



Now the question is... what are the probabilities the second, younger one is a boy?

I didn't know what to make of the question. I wrote “fifty percent” on the paper and handed it over, puzzled by the so-called “paradox”. She gave it back to me after beaming a smile.



Oh, it's not sad for the girl though. All of them got over it and she's as treasured as if she'd been a boy, mind you. Happy family. But the idea is that one of their two children is a girl. Now... what are the probabilities both children are girls?

I was confused. I gave E the fifty percent paper back, figuring I didn't need to write anything else.



How, though?

She continued, explaining after giving me a short moment to express myself. Anybody would be surprised at that revelation.



There are always four possibilities. Both children are girls, both children are boys, the first one is a girl and the second one is a boy, or... the first one is a boy and the second one is a girl.



Your options are 01, 10, and 11. Even though in both cases you know one of the numbers, its not enough because each of them have their spot. That's why it's a paradox: it's both fifty percent and thirty-three percent at the same time.



What are the probabilities all one hundred children are girls, if ninety-nine of them are girls? According to this paradox, it would either be fifty percent or something incredibly, incredibly low at the same time... Wouldn't that be a way to turn a low percent chance into a fifty-fifty?

I thought about it for a bit, but all it did was make my head hurt. It didn't make any sense. I asked her why she thought about all this. As I stood up and made my way out of the row of benches, I heard her answer.



What if this way... what they want to do... is almost guaranteed to succeed because they're making our goals unclear? The wording mattered... so maybe it does for us, too...

BGM: Active Search
:v: The music change legitimately startled me here, but I guess that's what I get for expecting Simon to react to her answer in any capacity. We have nothing else to talk about with E, so it's time to poke around the altar and then finally check out the back wall of this church.



I looked at it for a little bit. Normally, these things had cloth on them to keep their surface clean. I brushed my hand on the surface. No dust. This must've never been used, and yet, it was kept completely clean.

A sudden idea came upon me. If I broke these windows, maybe I could escape. However, I didn't want to anger any sort of religious deity.

As if there would be any to smite me. Grabbing a pot, I flung it right at a window. The window resisted, so I tried again. And again, and again, and again. No matter how many times I tried, whenever I threw the pot at a window, it only resulted in a loud noise without anything breaking.

Go figure it wouldn't be this easy.

I tried banging on the windows, too. I precariously stood upon one of the side altars, and...

Come on... stained glass windows aren't this solid, are they? They feel like metal...



Last thing to examine is Smiley's symbol.

This symbol again. Surely, it must represent something important. What the hell is it, though? I saw it on Smiley's clasp, right?



You get one long, uninterrupted line. Not sure if that's ever going to be helpful, but... may as well keep it in mind, I guess.

I immediately forgot about it. Instead, I brought my attention to the stained glass lineup around it.



I pressed the spades one. Nothing happened.

Maybe there's a sequence...



:v: Holy poo poo, something that could charitably be considered a puzzle! That we get to solve ourselves! Using the riddle from above, can you figure out the answer?

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Diamonds, hearts, clubs.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





BGM: Active Search


Last time, we ended on a puzzle, where you have to input a code using a riddle and the suits on the “windows” to figure it out. Your guess was close, but unfortunately incorrect!

The answer to this puzzle is, in fact, Diamond Heart Heart Club. This riddle is predicated on two assumptions that you, the solver, are set up to make without any actual evidence- that the solution will use all four suits, and that you only use each suit once. The riddle itself states that the couple 'proclaim themselves king and queen of hearts', which in fact is a clue that heart is used twice, as there's two of them. Spades are never mentioned, and therefore are not a part of the answer. :v:


I pressed the button under the stained glass of diamonds, of hearts, of hearts, of clubs. After I did, since I apparently entered the sequence in the correct order, something happened nearby. I turned around; the altar had opened its side nearest to me.



I walked behind the altar after it opened in the back. There was a lot of machinery underneath. Some gears were spinning in empty space. If the gears had been closer, they would form an uninterrupted chain. Yet, I didn't see how I could've moved them. A socket below was clearly indicating I needed a lever of some sort.

Maybe I could go and ask E for some wisdom about this.



Well, when it's the only option I have... :v:

I conferred with E over the mechanism in the back of the altar.

You say there are gears, correct? Let me take a feel so I know what it is.

I hastily added that some of the cogs were moving, and it might be dangerous. Her hand could get stuck there.



I confirmed that fact. This was quickly shredding through my stash of paper... While E was debating over what to do, I thought it strange this room didn't have a spare lever somewhere to push into the socket.

You'd think this place wouldn't make a puzzle like that impossible...

I think I get it. What do the cogs look like, first?

I couldn't draw a picture, since she didn't see, so I described them instead. The variou sgears were metallic and held with large axles. The one gear that could move seemed to have some sort of empty socket in the middle. There were other pieces of machinery underneath, but none of them looked like they could move.



That's right. Maybe we can do that, and the lever is a red herring. Instead then, what I'm looking for is a smaller stick...

I had to look around every nook and cranny again to find that little metal stick.



Time to re-investigate! I'll start with the stained glass on the left.

Negative. No metal stick here. There is only stained glass.

I stared into it for a moment. The more I stared, the harder my stare grew. The more I stared, the more entranced I became by the various shapes in the window. So this was the power of religion... Pretty.

The pulpit?

This already helped me. There was nothing else of note on the surface or inside of it.

I wonder if members of the clergy store alcohol in here to take drinks during sermons. Hmm... probably not. It would cause some kind of scandal.

Not that the church had ever shied away from all sorts of scandals...

:v: Simon out here with the hot takes about religion, drat! What about the Smiley symbol?

No matter where I looked over there, I didn't find any sort of stick. For a moment, I thought I could faintly make out the outline of some weird panel on the side, though.

Must've been my imagination.

Just to be safe, I pressed against it. The depression in the surface was flat.

I glanced into the large pot of incense on the altar.

If this thing was burning, this place would become spiritually-charged. I don't have anything to burn it with, though.

I absentmindedly dragged a finger into the incense. Wait...

Hold on. What's this?



This is a metallic stick. That's just what I was looking for. Who knew that to find it, I had to make the incense become “out”cense....

:rolleyes:



Following E's advice, I tried manually moving the cogs.

There's no way this is going to work.

It worked with the axle.

The cogs connected and, careful not to get my hand stuck in there, I removed myself from the premises. A panel opened on the side of the altar in the back. It had been so silent, if I hadn't moved closer beforehand, I wouldn't have noticed it.

The mechanism of this place is well-maintained....



Eight, six, two, four, one, three, seven, and five. I guess this is our code to escape.

I walked back down the stairs to the benches, deciding to fetch E. Before we left, though, I remembered I wanted to investigate the possible link everyone shared.

BGM: Algorithm Simile


What do I do? Hmm... prior to my recent loss of vision and hearing, I studied at the University of Montreal.

I was surprised by that. Once again, I found something adding to the theory involving the university. Marco, Ray, her and I all shared that school. Not just any university... that one in particular.



It's kind of hard to explain, but it's about what thought is and what constitutes thought. I took extended courses in personality studies and neurology as well. It's all very complex...



Even at the university, you had to take unrelated courses to fill up your curriculum. I assumed her inability to do the practical part stemmed from this dumb practice. Then again... I didn't take her for someone who'd want to mess with thoughts and what thoughts were.

I took a brief moment to think about what Marco studied in. It was also a scientific field, but I just couldn't remember what it was. It, too, was something strange like that. A sudden flash of inspiration hit me. That's right! A was a researcher too. The old man shared a tangential link to those two. He was a researcher, which sounds scientific, and there was E and Marco both studying in that stuff...



Marco, A and E were related to science in some way. Marco, E, Ray and I were related by the fact we belonged in the university. Jasmine and I were related because we knew each other. That left the twins. I only needed to ask the twins if they shared any sort of link with Jasmine. That would have to wait until we were all in the same place, so... the lounge was my next destination. For now, I took E's hand to pull her into the lobby.

We're done here? Amazing. It was remarkably fast, S. To be able to finish so quickly...

I'd like to think I'd need quite a while before I finish, but anyway...

:shepface:

BGM: Silence
I was thankful she couldn't hear me as we took the train back to our hangout spot.





Unfortunately, the noise I just heard robbed me of all my optimism. A sense of dread slowly spread throughout my body. Was that... a gunshot?

BGM: Advancing Shadows




I imagined Jasmine against a wall, immobile and dying. What if Agnos got shot? All possibilities of learning the truth about him would evaporate. I clenched my teeth. It was too early to say. Instead, I yanked E to the metallic wall. I was hearing some footsteps from above.

What... what is it?

She asked. She spoke. She made noise. I had to stop that, so I put my hand over her mouth. The girl understood quickly and she ceased any sort of movement. The train betrayed me when its little chime rang out and it drove away. Whoever was upstairs would know there was someone downstairs now.

The footsteps stopped. Instead there was silence... other than some grumbling or moaning. Another gunshot followed. The person hadn't been on their way to leave the room yet. Perhaps they didnt realize someone came by the station. The element of surprise may have still been on my side. Finally, those heavy steps came closer and closer. The staircase creaked as the steps grew louder. The footwear was probably a pair of boots.



I recognized that voice and those boots: they both belonged to Agnos. That sense of dread from earlier grew tenfold. If he was the one with a gun, then that meant the others... I couldn't panic here. If he found me here, he might not like me learning he'd shot in cold blood. I held my breath and counted the steps. One, two, three, four...





BGM: Accelerated Scuffle


Either I got luck or he wasn't as strong as I thought he was. Perhaps it was merely our age difference at play. Sadly, my luck wouldn't hold out; while he dropped the gun to the ground, he did something else too. He punched me in the face.



Are you afraid due to the gun? I'm simply ensuring that whoever is behind this game is removed from it. As there was no conclusive evidence, I'm removing everyone who isn't me.

I wasn't a very good fighter, but he was still an old man so... I took my chance. I lunged at his legs and quickly got him down to the ground again. This time, he was dazed by the hit so I reached over and grabbed the revolver.



It didn't take long for us both to make it up the stairs. I couldn't explain to her what was happening. I had no time for any of this. All I knew is that I needed to clear our names of this business. Once Agnos would realize that we weren't Smiley or his accomplice, then he would have no reason to pursue us.



BGM: Abyssal Snarl


No, there were four. All of them had been shot square in the head. With four deaths, I assumed the revolver had used four of its six shots. The four dead were... Ray... one of the twins... and...



I would never talk to Jasmine again. I'd never hear another of Marco's stupid jokes. I hated those jokes, but...this... this I hated more. I hated it far more.

I couldn't move. I felt like solid rock. E was still standing next to me and she didn't know what to do. Clearly, the girl was scared, but I couldn't move. I was stuck in a strange state. Like solid rock. Cold, weathered by time, full of heavy nothing.



This girl who had been nothing but nice to me... she was like a goddess coming down from above.

:rolleyes:

Despite doing nothing, her mere presence brought me back to reality. That's right. She was still alive and so was I. I took a long breath after having forgotten to do so for a short eternity. I wanted to mourn my friends, but...

BGM: Silence
The bodies end here... no more.

BGM: Accelerated Scuffle


But I was resolute now. For the first time I decided that... enough was enough. I wouldn't let Agnos kill more people. I grabbed E's hand. I couldn't bring her to danger again, but leaving her in a room full of dead bodies was not my idea of a good date either. She was safer with me.

This girl was the most precious person, as a fellow survivor.



Where was he? I stepped into the station. He wasn't on the other side, nor was he on the rails. He wasn't waiting for me. I only noticed where he was as a small clank echoed from afar. The station had two ends leading into a small, dark maintenance tunnel. The gates were locked, preventing our access to them. However, the old man disappeared inside one of those tunnels. And he didn't come out.

drat it...

In the darkness, he would have the advantage. I couldn't afford that. I cursed and went back into the lobby.



Just as quickly as before, I made my way out of the lobby. I couldn't see if Agnos was capable of seeing me on this side. Just in case, if he could, I flipped the bird in his direction. That'd teach him.

Simon this is literally the least appropriate time to do this kind of poo poo YOUR FRIENDS JUST DIED :psyduck:



It didn't have to take anybody else at the moment, so it could pick me up quickly. I looked around the station for any signs of something capable of picking up our presence, but I didn't see anything. Once again pulling E by the hand, I stepped into the train with her. Once she sat down, I started writing.

What is happening? Please, let me know!

BGM: Silence
I was getting to it, but it would take a while. As I wrote, the chime rang out. As I wrote, the train drove off.

….



The girl looked positively mortified. I couldn't blame her. I elaborated upon the fact I only saw one twin, so perhaps the other was safe.

Do you know which one died? I was told they were identical, so perhaps not... Oh, no... I didn't think all of this would get so bloody. This is truly, terribly horrible...



We need to find a way to leave this hell as fast as possible...

She was right. This was hell. I couldn't stop thinking about the bodies, dead, cold on the floor which was equally as cold. I had to stop thinking about it. That was... then. This is now.

BGM: Ambient Strain


Speaking of E... I had to ask her what her name was. I decided to keep that as an incentive to escape. I would only do it once I would be safe and sound, outside. The train left behind me after I contemplated that idea. The first order of business was clearing up my name, finding out that loving password and confronting A once I'd amassed all the lovely information he wanted me to find. I held my head in a hand. I started swearing in my thoughts. I needed to calm down.

Pulling E along, I stepped into the lobby... then went up the stairs...



Hah... I'm not gonna get any answers here, am I? Maybe I should just think about it. What about you, E? Oh, you have an idea? Sure, that'll work! Here, I'll let you have a crack at it. Feel free to use those eyes to see what the problem is and your ears to hear what I'm saying. Oh, I forgot, you can't see or hear anything. Oops, my bad. gently caress! I'm going insane.

This is most likely the worst thing he's going to say in this game (barring any new additions that weren't in the original), so I guess it's good we're ripping that bandage off now, but Christ! :negative:

I didn't mean to turn her disabilities into a mockery. I was just...stressed out. I was frustrated at the situation, not at her. She was difficult to deal with. If only she could see and hear... I communicated with her some of my ideas, asking her if she had some.



But first, let's think about Smiley a little. From what you said, if we're pulling from the pool of those who are still alive, Smiley is anyone between Agnos, myself, you, or the other twin. Otherwise, Smiley is already, um, dead. I don't think you've seen the other twin yet, so for now, let's consider them as a possible threat. It's sad to say, but...



BGM: Ascertaining Speech


Jasmine had gone with Ray, G had gone with Marco, and Agnos had gone with H. Thinking about it that way, the bodies that turned up were Jasmine, Ray, and Marco. There was also a twin, but it was either G or H. Agnos had gone with H, so it's possible he would've killed her to. But then where was G?

No, this didn't add up. If Agnos killed H, then he could've done so many, many times. He could've done it in the room they explored. He could've done it on the station outside that room. In the lobby, too. That meant... that twin was probably G, who had gone with Marco. If all the teams came back, then why didn't we see H was simple: Agnos killed her, but not at the lounge.



You think so? If she's already dead, then we can't manage to prove she's Smiley... and this means we're the last ones alive. You said we were at a station, right?

She took a small pause, unsure of what she should say about it, but eventually she made her question clearer.

If this station has already been explored, couldn't we just leave? Each of them has an exit, correct?



BGM: Advancing Shadows
A cold shiver ran up my spine at that realization. Maybe the hand-communication was just for show. Maybe she had absolutely no idea of what the rules really were, or perhaps he purposely avoided telling her. As if he had intended her to die at some point due to a mistake like that.

drat it! I can't even tell you because there's barely any paper left. gently caress!



I have to be careful what info I share with her. Goddammit... I guess I don't have a choice, I'll do a quick cursory look over this room.



My presence upstairs with E was, in a way, a deterrent. He was aware of the rules and how we couldn't step in the lobby or beyond with more than two people at once.

On the other side of the room was a prison leading to a few lockers. I searched that quickly, but nothing jumped out at me. Back on this side, there was... a safe. It was already unlocked when I checked. I opened it and on the back I saw a message. It made little sense, and was clearly used for whatever puzzle was in this room. Otherwise, this safe was empty.

This safe... it's a safe. It could keep things safe. Agnos isn't stupid. He's very cunning. Maybe he could even trick me again and steal back this gun. If that happens...if that happens...gently caress.

At least Simon acknowledges he's very easy to manipulate :v:



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.



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

Next time, we get our first ending of Head AS Code.

Mix. fucked around with this message at 19:19 on Jun 28, 2021

whitehelm
Apr 20, 2008


Mix. posted:

Next time, we get our first ending of Birth ME Code.

No, I'm pretty sure we're a long way off from that game.

Mecca-Benghazi
Mar 31, 2012



A bit confused here, isn’t this still supposed to be the flashback when he’s solving puzzles with Jasmine then she gets shot? If she’s dead, this is a different timeline or a nightmare or something weird is going on.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?



whitehelm posted:

No, I'm pretty sure we're a long way off from that game.

:doh: Thanks, fixed.

MagusofStars
Mar 31, 2012




Mecca-Benghazi posted:

A bit confused here, isn’t this still supposed to be the flashback when he’s solving puzzles with Jasmine then she gets shot? If she’s dead, this is a different timeline or a nightmare or something weird is going on.
Another piece of weirdness: Immediately prior to the flashback, Jasmine mentions that she picked up a remote but Simon knows nothing about it...whereas in the current timeline Simon has the remote, given directly to him by A.

Mecca-Benghazi
Mar 31, 2012



Okay, so if this is heavily inspired by the Zero Escape series, I’m thinking it’s like 999 where you need to group up with the right people to get to the 9 door person (and other goodies along the way, in this case I’m guessing the remote) and other routes end Very Badly. And this here is some morphogenetic field nonsense, maybe having to do with the New York subway. Clearly we hosed up :v:

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





BGM: Ambient Strain


Before I moved against Agnos, I needed some kind of plan. First, I needed to understand what he really intended to do, but I also needed to avoid him while doing it. I wrote to E with one of my last papers. Two remained after this.

So we're going to explore a new station? Is that really necessary at this point? If what you said is true, it doesn't sound that safe...

I squeezed her hand tighter in mine to reassure her. Unlike what she might've been thinking, this preparation was to be sure we'd be safe and not in danger. We stepped out of the room and went downstairs to take the train.



We entered the train and we resumed the little subway cycle. The train closed its doors...

BGM: Silence
...then left the station...



...then we came to another one... the doors opened... then closed.



BGM: Accelerated Scuffle


Eeeh!

drat! Which one's next?

According to the speakers, the pool had been next. However, the train didn't move to leave the station. I decided to leave it after a few minutes. Once we were outside, I waited for the train to go. It didn't move ever after I left it.

Is something broken...?



No, it was a pile of debris. The tunnel had collapsed. That was why the train wasn't moving from here.

drat it! Where else can we go?!

I checked out the little hallway in the darkness but the gate was locked. I swore under my breath. Come to think of it... the door leading up to the station was also closed. I couldn't explore here at all. Why was it closed? Was there someone here...? Was it... the twin?



What the hell is going on here...? Was it an earthquake? poo poo, we have to go. We have to leave this place.

I quickly explained to E using one of my very last sheets of paper. Only one more remained after this. My plan was simple: we were going to walk through the tunnel.



If one of them... even just one of them came by, we'd die instantly!

I knew that, but we had no choice. It was either that or stay here, starve and die, or even worse, be crushed by falling rubble. This place wasn't secure anymore.



BGM: Ambient Strain


Okay...

E grasped my body from behind. Hers was warm and nice, comfortable even if kind of heavy, and a constant reminder that I wasn't doing this for myself. I was doing this for both of us.

Slowly, I set off. Unable to see, I walked through the darkness of the tunnel. I was hoping it wouldn't bend, but the rails were supported by another piece of cement. If my foot hit that, I could adjust myself.

It took a long time.

A very long time passed. Another earthquake occurred, but I held on. Even more time went by. Finally, I emerged into another station.

We made it... How much longer do we have to, though? Is this station fine?



I looked over the side of the station and through the door's window. Rubble. Rubble everywhere. Even if this station looked fine under a certain angle, there were debris in other places. It had suffered more than the previous one.

poo poo... we have to go through another one.



The damage done to these stations was far too big to be the work of just an earthquake. Besides, earthquakes didn't really happen here. Not like this. As I crossed each station, there were more earthquakes happening. The ground shook and I stopped to keep myself steady. Each of them, one by one, always while I was in the darkness, as if it was following me.

These aren't earthquakes. They're explosions. The entire place is going under.

I gritted my teeth while I made my way to the security room. Either this was smiley's plan, or someone else was destroying this place. I could only think of Agnos. This reminded me of the events that had transpired not long ago in the subway in New York. They said that every station had exploded. Was it the same here?



And now, I had proof of it firsthand. When I arrived at the security station, he was there. I dropped E and drew out my gun.

BGM: Accelerated Scuffle


I ordered him to move despite the fact he had the high ground. I was armed and he was not.

Well, well, if it isn't my assistant. What help you have been. Thankfully, I'm in a good mood.

You're the only one. Did you forget you killed my friends?

Now, now, calm down. I see you still have the gun. You can kill me now if you want but if you do, this entire place will collapse right over your head.

That's what I thought. You're the one who screwed us over.



Honestly, I don't give a gently caress! I just want to leave this place, okay?

And I will personally let you out, and even drive you to your home in a limousine, if I had one, so long as you open that ridiculous door.

I don't know how to.

Lies and falsehoods. You're the one who managed to lure me into a false sense of security! I was tricked by you, Smiley, but no more.





I reached into the bag with my hand and snagged up the remote while keeping the gun at him. I flung the remote over the edge of the station, sliding it over the smooth ground. It was the only sound interrupting my monologue.

You killed my friends. Jasmine and Marco- the both of them were here. If I was Smiley, why the gently caress would I put them here?! Why would I be here too?! You know, I kinda liked Jasmine. No, gently caress this, I loved her, you rear end in a top hat! I loved that loving girl and you killed her without a single care!



Hey, if you take another step, I'll shoot. I should gun you down right now for all you did.

I saw him take a step forward, but I quickly remedied that by adjusting my aim. He seemed to be thinking about what I was saying and weighing if it was worth it.

My aim's better when I've got nothing to lose. If this is the result of what your organization does, it can go to hell. I swear to God, I'll send you there myself if you don't give me the way out right now.



I sensed dread, danger but also euphoria. I was tired. I didn't want this madness anymore. I wanted out of here.

...I see. Believe me, I understand your plight.

I glared at him as he made fun of my predicament. He held his hands up defensively.

Oh, no, I am being most sincere. I truly understand your pain, but that is a story for another time.

How about never?

Also fair. You want to leave, don't you? I will give you specific instructions that will let you do so. It is a little complicated, but I already tested it and the results speak for themselves.

I didn't trust that bastard.



I didn't trust that bastard for a single second, but I didn't have a choice. This was the final step.

Fine.

BGM: Algorithm Simile


I still have this one. It is the collar of the twin known as H.

So she was dead, killed by him no doubt.

If you go to one of the scanner gates leading out of this place, you should be able to throw the collars I left in the lounge through them. They won't activate.



Are you sure it's not just because they were already dead?

No, of course not. I went through just fine too. I assume they shut down when I dismantled the power source. I can even tell you what's beyond the scanners if you don't believe me.

What is it?



Okay. So if I throw those collars... it'll all be fine?

That's just so you can see for yourself. I doubt it makes a difference if you throw the collars through the scanners now or not. Well? You'd better get going. I won't detonate anything further until you make your way back.

I hesitated. I didn't have a choice, so I acknowledged his advice.

Okay, sure. Pray we never meet again.



BGM: Ambient Strain
By the time he was done talking about delusions of grandeur, I was already back on the trek. I had quite a ways to go through the tunnel before I arrived there. I cast one glance back towards the station and saw Agnos leave through one of the dark hallways on the sides. That bastard was walking station to station too? If he was doing it, perhaps they were closer than I imagined. When I walked, it didn't seem that far either, giving credence to this idea. I focused back on the trek.



The next one had been the lounge. That motherfucker! I still made my way there because I didn't trust what he said. Back at the lounge, I helped a hopelessly confused E climb up onto the station platform. I followed with a mighty leap, afterwards.

So what is going on?! I can't see where I'm going... Are we leaving this place?

I wasn't able to let her know I was going up, so I reassured her with a few taps on her shoulder, after which I looked inside of the lobby. No debris. As the way up was clear, I went up the stairs to confront the grim sight again.



Finally up the stairs, I saw it all again. Marco, Jasmine, G and Ray were all on the ground, dead. With Agnos admitting he had H's collar, all five others were definitely dead.

BGM: Android Sorrow


Checking their bodies, I saw Marco and Ray's collars were gone. What Agnos said wasn't a lie.

You really used them, huh... so the way out is open now... Ugh... Am I okay with this? Am I okay with letting your killer go rampant, Jasmine? Marco, what do you think...? Got another dumb joke?



My strength left me and I fell to my knees. I had no more will to stand up for several moments. I fell to an uncontrollable, sobbing mess. This was real and I needed to get it out of my system. I didn't have a lot of time to mourn and grieve. One thing was for sure: as soon as I'd be out of here, I'd go to the police and notify them about this dangerous man. That was my plan... but it wouldn't bring them back... There was no second chance... I weakly punched the ground before sniffling up my sorrows.

I stood back up, and squatted to pluck the collars from Jasmine and G's bodies. Of course, they were dead, so the collars wouldn't kill them again. Strangely, they didn't detect me as using force, so they didn't activate either. Perhaps the collars knew that their wearers were dead.

“But Simon, collars aren't people. People wear collars!” Oh, Jasmine...

Before I fell in my sorrows again, I got a grip and stood back up. I stashed them in my bag and left the area, never to return. Goodbye, Jasmine. Goodbye, Marco. G, H, and Ray, none of you deserved this, either.

But I was still alive. Not only that, but E was alive too. Assuming we would both survive, this experience was special: it was one of a kind. Even if life returned to normal after this...

BGM: Silence
The two of us now shared an undeniable link.

BGM: Ambient Strain


She offered me a smile as I took her hand in mine again. I trusted her, too. I couldn't tell her, but...she was warmth. I could be comfortable within it. With her. The two of us set off through a tunnel again.

BGM: Silence
…...

More tremors had erupted while we made our way to the security room again. There were no traces of Agnos. I called up the stairs, and he wasn't there. I threw the collars out through the scanners. Nothing happened, except that the door closed behind them. If something like this triggered, then clearly, that was the way out.



I didn't understand the process, but if it worked, it worked. I made my way back to the science lab. Once we arrived there, I took E up the stairs and we stood in front of the scanner gate.

BGM: Abyssal Snarl


What if Jasmine, Marco, and the others died in vain?

We're right there, aren't we? In front of the scanners. Don't worry, I'm here. We'll be fine.

That's correct. We'd be fine. With E's hand in mine, I stepped through the scanners and closer to our good ending.

BGM: Silence
Whatever it was that Agnos did... it worked. When we stepped through the scanners, nothing happened. E seemed a little afraid and so was I, but it was safe.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


I shivered in realization of what we actually accomplished, while releasing a breath I didn't even know I'd been holding by the same occasion. I didn't care if Agnos was still blowing up the other stations. I was out of here, I was free. I was with E...

But the girl pulled her hand away from mine. I took a quizzical look at her. She reached for her headphones and her mask with both hands.



I didn't understand what she meant. Very soon, it became apparent: it was her headset. She removed it after messing with the two objects a little.


:prepop:

She beamed a smile at me, looking around herself. I thought that she was cute. Everything was going to be fine now. I knew I shouldn't have insisted on the security and well-being of the situation, but I couldn't help myself. Death flags be damned, this was a good moment.

I can see you... The light makes it somewhat difficult, admittedly.

We weren't in an area with a strong light, but I figured if she'd worn this thing over her head every day for the past however many months, then it might've been jarring.



I had been avoiding it, yes. Now that her senses had been restored, I felt a little weird about looking at her... or grabbing her hand as I did before.

Well, you see...

Nonsense.

The girl grabbed my hand instead, completely disregarding my argument, which was barely an argument to begin with.

BGM: Ascertaining Speech


My headset was on to repair my senses. Over many months, it has been working to reapply a new sequence based upon my DNA. You could think of it as... 3D printing.

:stare: That's gotta be...uncomfortable to experience.



And now, we're both alive to see it. I'm so glad, Simon.

Wait, how do you know my name?

Oh, Agnos told me.

Bastard.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


She smiled at me and urged me on. I thought there was no reason to delay it, so I went for it. We stepped further down the hallway, past the scanners.



There were many buttons. I pressed a few of them, but none of them worked.

Try the one labeled with a zero.

BGM: Ambient Strain


Um... let's try another one?

I tried pushing the one with the -2 label, and it worked. The elevator started moving. I expected it to take a few moments... But it went on and on. The elevator moved for what felt like entire minutes. How far underground was this place? I looked at E, who was just as puzzled as I was.

We're way further... under the metro? Normally it's not this deep underground.

After five minutes, the elevator was still going up. Finally, it ceased its movements. Despite that, I didn't think we were above ground yet.



No, I'll keep the door open so that it won't move no matter what.

She stuck her arm through the open doorway and I nodded, stepping through. I went through darkness for a few moments until I emerged in a strangely familiar room.

BGM: Abyssal Snarl


What does it mean? Is this...are there many levels of this place, all with a similar contraption?

I went back to the elevator to share that thought with E. She looked pensive for a moment. It was so strange to see her face after spending hours before without it being possible.



I pushed the button labeled zero but, once again, the elevator didn't move.

Why is it not working? Maybe... I have a hypothesis as to why. First of all, I wish I could know at which floor we'd been before, but it doesn't matter too much I guess. You know how this is established far below the earth? Maybe whoever did this is using a real place as a cover. Imagine if this place was under the subway...



That's kind of annoying, because this means until that elevator gets called to floor one or two, we can't really get out of here. You said there was something like a door, right?

Yes. There was a scanner hall right at the end of the bend in the tunnel.

What was beyond it?

There was a closed door.



Which means the door was closed, because people already escaped from that floor. Maybe they're the ones already up there. No, wait... If they were, then this elevator would be up there. Let's test it, anyway.

She pushed the button labeled -1. The elevator moved upwards again.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
Yes, that works! The other floors work, but not floor zero. We just have to wait until the elevator's gone, and we'll be home free.

Okay... what do we do to pass the time, then?

Hmm.. I don't know. We can share information.

She had a very complicit tone. I replied in kind.



No, you silly boy. I mean stuff like... your favorite color!

Oh, that kind of stuff.

Yeah. Mine's yellow. It's kind of a weird color, I guess. A lot of people don't like it because it reminds them of bees or something. I can't really fault them...

Bees don't go for you anyway, those are wasps.

Yeah, well, wasps are also yellow.





:v:

Hey, who's prejudiced now?

Truth be told, I didn't really have a favorite color. I liked all of them. Saying it like that would make me sound indecisive, though. Speaking of sharing information, I still didn't know her name, right? This was the perfect time to ask.

Now that we're out, you still haven't told me your name yet...

BGM: Silence


BGM: Accelerated Scuffle
What the gently caress is going on?!

I rose back from the ground, holding for dear life onto parts of the elevator.

Oh no, it's Agnos... he got to the science lab and he's blowing up the elevator?!

Watch out, its happening again!

I tripped when the next tremor occurred, then I rolled out of the elevator since its doors hadn't closed yet. I must've hurt my ankle, because I couldn't rise back up again.



I checked in with her, but my state wasn't anything great either. I realized what stopped me from standing up wasn't just my ankle, but my entire leg. More debris came raining down. The end result was that I couldn't get my lower body up.

I reached for E to try and have her help me pull up from the ground, but she'd fallen inside the elevator and she sprained her ankle.

Hold onto me! We need to go above ground! The zero button must work now!!

Wait, no, not this... I don't...

She reached for me as the ground fell under me. It freed me, but there was nothing for me to hold onto anymore. I did a miraculous leap and I snatched the side of the elevator, even if my lower body dangled above empty space.



Grab my hand!

She reached for me and I did exactly that, but I didn't think she was strong enough to pull me in. Instead, I reached with my other hand to grasp around the open doors. The closest button was the zero button...



Gah! It's still not working?! You stupid poo poo!

I don't want to go without you anyway, come into the elevator! Why are you stuck... why can't you get up... why is this happening now?!

Ugh... it's my fault... I should've... killed... killed that rear end in a top hat...

No, don't think that it's over... you can still make it in!



No, the floor's way too low! Look under you! It's... a few stories tall...

She was right. If I let go here, I'd die. Unfortunately, I had lost most control of my legs by now. Falling materials and rubble had irremediably broken my legs. I felt my lower half filled with nothing but pain.

Most likely, my blood was staining the entire broken hallway. It was most likely leaking down the side of the elevator shaft on the outside, here. My insides were slowly oozing out, mixed with dust and debris. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes.

I pulled myself forward with a louder growl. Finally, I reached further inside.



I slammed my hand on the only other button I could reach. I couldn't see it, but if I remembered right, the left column was the odd numbers. The bottom one was... -27, then.

NOOO!!!

I released everything, but the doors closed onto my neck. I was suspended against the wall by my neck, and the collar detected force being applied. Soon, it beeped.

Aah, gently caress! I didn't mean for this, but you have to live! Don't worry about it! I'm... fine!



The elevator began its descent down to floor -27 where, hopefully, the elevator shaft would survive the next blasts from the explosives. And hopefully, this wouldn't become a coffin with my head and a pure girl within.

She had to suffer this horrific vision because of me. But far from what I expected, she grabbed the sides of my head instead and lifted me up until she looked at me directly.

Listen, listen well and never forget! Imprint it in your memories, don't even think about forgetting! You have to remember, the fourth letter is Y!





My last thoughts were full of regrets... but E would live on. I'm coming, Marco, Jasmine. Wait for me...

BGM: Agnostic Shutdown






:v: To be continued....

PlasticAutomaton
Nov 12, 2016

Artoria Pendonut




And heeeere's the Zero Escape timey wimey bullshit.

Quackles
Aug 11, 2018

Pixels of Light.


Well, this loop thingy is going to be a pain in the AS. :v:

Also, I just noticed that all the music tracks have the initials A.S. And then there’s Agnos

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





BGM: Anomalous Sepulchur (This is the main menu theme! :eng101:)
As we have gotten our first ending, before we begin the next route, I wanted to do a sort of supplemental update. This one will cover the first set of dialogue options that were missed back in Update 1; the end of this update will also give a choice for where we go next, as we now have access to the flowchart.

First, I wanted to quickly show a comparison of what some of the locations looked like in the old version, and compare it to the new version, because I think these kind of glow-ups are neat to look at :colbert:

The infirmary:



The library:



The laboratory:



The church:



I'll show some more of these in future extra updates (as well as stuff like the old cast art and such) as we visit more of the stations we didn't see this time.


-----

There are three other groups you can talk to before Smiley's recording plays, and we'll start with Jasmine and Marco.

BGM: Algorithm Simile


...so he woke up, and he asked me what was going on, and then followed up with a bunch of angry questions. Obviously, I couldn't answer any of them.

Hey. Figured something out yet?



Yeah, we all woke up at different times... Given, we couldn't have all come here in the same train if only one compartment opens its doors.

We easily could have. But... we wouldn't have been in pairs, then.

Yeah, speaking of Ray... I know him, I've seen him before...

So yeah, if you talk to them here, you find out Marco recognized Ray ahead of time.

That was interesting to me. Maybe this was a link between all of us. I knew Jasmine and Marco, then the twins knew each other and both A and E knew each other too, apparently. If Marco knew Ray...



What's going on there? The screen's full of noise.

I took a glance at it and noted he was right. Everyone was gathering to see what was going to appear on it, so I figured his explanation about Ray would have to wait until later.

Let's go. It's probably super important.

We went for it, joining the others standing in front of the screen.

And that's it for if you talked to those two. Next up, we'll do Agnos and E.



No, no, I was just wondering... what do you think of this situation?

Ah... it is somewhat hard to say for now. I cannot hide the fact I would be, like everyone else, much happier outside. Until then, though, I can impart some of my thoughts on our companions, perhaps?

:v: This conversation's going to be a lot more ironic after seeing the first ending, isn't it?

That might be good.



Let's see... from an outsider perspective, the ones known as J and M are pretty normal people. I get the feeling M will be the one to uplift everyone's mood, but J... she seems a little difficult to read. There may be a certain duality to her that I have yet to understand.

I wanted to interrupt him and defend my friend, but I also considered his words. He wasn't... wrong.



As for Ray, I can already see him becoming a bit of a nuisance against the integrity of everyone in this strange gathering. It is such a strange gathering, in fact, it reminds me of when I was a little younger...

I had to stop his monologue before he gave me his life story.



I had to stop him anyway, because the screen behind everyone had begun giving some loud static. Silently, we split up, heading towards the screen to see what was happening.

And that's it for Agnos and E. :v: Lastly, we have the twins, who have probably gotten the least screen time of the cast so far.



Yep, that's me. I came by to check on what you two think we should do.

Um... I don't know. I don't want to go into the tunnel, though. It seems too dangerous.



Yeah, I guess that makes sense. I think the same way about my friends too...

No way! You couldn't understand that kind of link.

I frowned, crossing my arms.

Well, maybe I have a sister that I want to protect too.



No.

:allears:

Then why bring it up?! You're not making any sense at all.



The others are moving back... they're going towards the screen. What's going on?

Huh... the screen is all sorts of noisy. It's full of white noise.

Now that she mentioned it, I could hear it too. I turned around and went to join the others, followed by the twins.

And that's it for the last conversation we could have at this point.

-----

BGM: Anomalous Sepulchur
So, you may have noticed that we did not make any real notable decisions during that route, but there were multiple points that felt like they should've been one. That's because, technically, they WERE choices! Simon just chose what to do for each of those points without any input from us, the player.

It's automatically directed for the first route- you always will get that ending first in Head AS Code. (There's even a Steam Achievement for it called “What do you mean, Good?” :v: ) From here onwards, it's closer to the standard Zero Escape formula- that is, hopping around a flowchart running into locks and gradually piecing things together. The current state of the flowchart is as follows:



As you can see, there are four branch points to choose from for where we go from here, so I'm taking a vote on which one. The last one has two options, one of which has a lock, but I'm going to exclude that as an option this time around. The other three options are as follows:


-The first time teams are assembled, when we chose to go with Marco
-When we decided to prioritize how everyone is connected rather than who could be the odd person out
-When we chose to go for a walk with A instead of staying at the lounge

Mix. fucked around with this message at 07:53 on Jul 4, 2021

Quackles
Aug 11, 2018

Pixels of Light.


In-teresting. I like that the flow chart can go in multiple directions, too. Like a subway map. Anyway, I vote for When we decided to prioritize how everyone is connected.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



let's ditch Marco

whitehelm
Apr 20, 2008


Mix. posted:

As you can see, there are four branch points to choose from for where we go from here, so I'm taking a vote on which one. The last one (which is when we were trying to decide what to do with the gun in the gymnasium) is not an option to choose for (because of the lock). The other three options are as follows:

-The first time teams are assembled, when we chose to go with Marco
-When we decided to prioritize how everyone is connected rather than who could be the odd person out
-When we chose to go for a walk with A instead of staying at the lounge


Only one option at the gun choice is locked, we have the other one available that leads off to the right on the flowchart.

MagusofStars
Mar 31, 2012




Quackles posted:

In-teresting. I like that the flow chart can go in multiple directions, too. Like a subway map. Anyway, I vote for When we decided to prioritize how everyone is connected.
Seconding this. Focusing on who's the odd man out seems like a good way to keep things moving.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?



whitehelm posted:

Only one option at the gun choice is locked, we have the other one available that leads off to the right on the flowchart.

ignore this im stupid aaaaaaaaaaaa

Okay I tested it and it turns out I was wrong. The changes to the UI made me misunderstand something from the original. I'll add the option when opening a vote for what branch to choose next time. Sorry about that. :suicide:

Mix. fucked around with this message at 07:39 on Jul 4, 2021

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





I'm going to recap the events leading up to the branching path you voted for, as a quick refresher.

Simon is on the metro train post-exams with his roommate Marco and his old childhood friend Jasmine, who he has not seen for several years. He seemingly wakes up from a nap to find himself alone with Jasmine, still inside the train but stopped at a strange station that neither of them recognize. A and E are already there, and Ray, Marco, and the twins G and H soon follow. A strange masked figure appears on a screen at the station, introducing themselves as Smiley, and states that they are to take part in a death game called the Dating Game, where they must travel to different stations and attempt to find the ninth person, as their collars only go from 1-8, in order to 'solve' the game and escape.

Simon chooses to pair up with his roommate, Marco, for the first venture out into the metro network, and the two leave the train to find themselves at a station which holds a large, multi-level library. After exploring and solving the puzzle, Marco mentions that he recognizes Ray as being a teacher at the university the two attend, but doesn't know anything about the other four. All of the groups gradually return to the starting station, which they have determined to be their base of operations. Ray reveals that during their exploration, he and Jasmine found a note that implies one of the players is an outlier or traitor of some kind, causing tension between the group.

Each group enters the code they obtained while exploring into the panels beside the door, and find a lounge and bar area upstairs. After exploring the new location, A offers to mix some (non-alcoholic) drinks for the group. After discussing a recent bombing in a New York Subway, Simon finds himself lost in thought over the note Ray found. There are two prominent mysteries he could focus on, and previously, he chose to focus on what linked the group together, rather than attempting to figure out who the odd person out was. This time, however, we're going to try and uncover who's the outlier here! :v:


BGM: Alarming Silence


Would this place explode too? Was I caught in some kind of international terrorism? This brought me back to the note Ray showed us. Someone who didn't belong... like a terrorist?

Like Jasmine said, it was easy to dismiss it as some kind of scare. Perhaps it was what it was, but I couldn't be sure. Did I really think that was the case? Did I think the message was important?



The note is very important! Someone could be a traitor! :v:

BGM: Ambient Strain


I couldn't afford to get teamed up with the one that didn't belong. Or... Perhaps I should have aimed for that. If I was with them, perhaps they could get me out of here... but the situation was more difficult than simply escaping. I had to escape, yes, but with my friends.

What I needed was information. I had to talk to somebody. I did have a lot of choices right now... There was the old man behind the counter. He might have been knowledgeable about it. Then there was the twin next to me. I could also talk to that strange girl, E, who might have known more than she appeared to.



That eliminated Jasmine and Marco to begin with, but I figured if I went to talk to G, H would unscrew my head, so I dropped that idea, too. I probably only had time to talk to one of them, since I bet they were getting antsy to head out shortly. It would be between the old man, Ray, H, and the strange girl.



I rolled a die for this one because of how soon it is- and like the others, I'll be covering the other conversations in an Extra update. The die came back a 3, so we're talking to H.



Who, me?

She looked around, as if she was unsure I was talking to her. Perhaps I simply surprised her.

Oh, no, I don't know anything about it... but it's weird, isn't it? Why would that uh, impostor person put themselves in danger like that?

Impostor?

Either she misunderstood the message, or she was interpreting it differently, which was exactly what I'd wanted to know by asking one of the strangers.



Like if you just made calls while staying away and masking your voice...

That's pretty specific.

Just an idle thought, nothing else. And besides, the most suspicious one might just be E... look at her get-up! But maybe that's the point.

She pointed with a finger.



She's the one who stands out the most, so she's the one we have to suspect, but what if it's the other way around? Suspecting her is just a trap...

Yeah, I agree. Though, this doesn't really answer the question of “who it is”, then...

I guess not. I didn't think we'd answer it yet, though.

She shrugged, unconcerned by the problem even if she gave me some good food for thought.



I took a glance around me and I noticed Marco fell off his seat.

Uh, are you okay?

BGM: Accelerated Scuffle


Ahh, allergy to coconuts, perhaps? This is an anaphylactic reaction. I need to take him to some sort of hospital quickly, or else he's going to suffocate. Quick, someone help me!

:v: Well, that didn't take long to become relevant!

Ray pushed us out of the way in a surprising show of altruism. He grabbed the boy and effortlessly lifted him into his arms.

Yeah, yeah, to the train then, let's go.

Wait, you don't know where you're going! We found this stuff earlier.

She took out a somewhat large pile of folded papers she'd carried in her pocket. Unfolding it, she revealed they were maps for the stations.



Let's go quickly then, or he's going to die.

Whatever, old man.

The two of them took off. Jasmine looked at me. Then, she panicked, realizing something I'd yet to understand about our predicament.

Oh no, we have to head there too! Remember what Smiley said: the train will only stop at a station that hasn't been done yet. They can't make it to the infirmary because the stations on the way aren't occupied or solved.



Quickly, we all hurried after them. I had the decency of also taking hold of E's hand to pull her along.

Ehh?! Where are we going this quickly? Did something happen?

I had no time to explain and I was the only one who could help her down the stairs. I had to be quick, or I would miss the train. Then, we arrived at the little lobby, and from the opening I could tell the train had just arrived. I felt apologetic to E, but I really couldn't stop: if we didnt get in there...



Finally, we made it in.

Hahh... hah...

I panted, letting go of E, who quickly put her hands on any nearby surface to reorient herself. She made her way to a seat and, after making sure nobody else was there, she dropped onto it.

We made it... all in...

I noticed the twins were there too, and so was Jasmine. Shortly, the train closed its doors.

BGM: Silence


We're going to the other side this time, huh? I guess it was a bit out of our control... Anyway, we have two stations to stop at. The first is the security room...

And the other is the laboratory, yeah. Who's going where? We've got a security room, a laboratory, an infirmary- that one's for A and M- and a gym. Like, for fitness?

The train was already inbound to the first station. Very soon, it arrived and stopped all movements.

BGM: Ambient Strain


Uh... I think the twins might go together again?

Before my suggestion brought any reactions, Ray walked back in from the other compartment.

We need someone to go, huh? I'll go.

Oh, okay, that solves that! With who, though?



Disregarding our hesitation, Ray stepped towards the girls.

BGM: Silence
I'll go with... her.

BGM: Accelerated Scuffle


Hey! Let go!

Very quickly, he stepped backwards towards the open doors. Jasmine moved forward as if to stop him, but he quickly stopped her in her tracks when the click of a certain metallic object made it clear he wasn't joking.


:stare:

Wha... what?!

Shut up and stop gesticulating! You're coming with me. You and your twin are super suspicious. We've gotta find someone who isn't like the others, huh?



Woah, hey, hey, don't move now!

He reaffirmed his hold against H's body, squeezing her tight with his strong arm. The man had caught G taking a step forward to defy him.

Don't do anything you might loving regret, okay?

Let go of her, she's not like that I swear! She's not the one you're looking for!

What's that? Are you, then? Heard you both say something about a traitor to each other earlier!

Umm...



But no matter how much she swung her legs, every hit missed. It almost felt like she was missing him on purpose. Perhaps she didn't want to actually trigger him to pull the gun on her. Perhaps she was only doing this as a token show of resistance.

I closed my hands into fists and inhaled, then exhaled. I wasn't going to go and pull her out of his grip. That would be too dangerous. Jasmine was just as angry and powerless as I was. When Ray stepped out, following our inaction, she lunged forward. Ray aimed at her.

No!!!



I pulled Jasmine back into the train, though. A shot had fired from the gun, though it was difficult to tell if she'd been hit. I quickly took a look at her as we fell in a heap. The bullet wasn't in her.

I looked up at the ceiling. The bullet wasn't even in the train, either. A quick glance at Ray told me he'd fired it in the air as a warning shot.



And you wanna know where I found this gun, I bet? Before you accuse me of doing some bad poo poo, you should-



BGM: Silence
The train was driving off. I was left alone with Jasmine, who was standing up, G, who was frightened and looked extremely perturbed, and E, who was... as normal as usual.

It's okay... all we can do is hope that he sticks to his word. What did he say at the end? What should we do about what?

I don't know. I couldn't hear. Could you?

I asked G, but it was useless. The girl was sobbing. I wasn't too good with this, so I left Jasmine to handle it. Our teams were pretty much decided anyway.



Yeah, that's the plan. It's okay... we'll get your sister back.

I also glanced over at Marco and A in the other compartment. The old man was standing up slowly, apparently having been knocked unconscious before.

:v: So you mean to tell me Ray knocked Agnos out without ANYONE ELSE HEARING IT??

Did Ray...? I shook my head. That man's actions couldn't be condoned, but I had something to do. In the next long minutes, I spent them explaining everything to E.

That's horrible! I hope she will be okay... That man is a jerk.



She couldn't see me, and we had to search rooms again. This was going to be strange. Before I knew it, Jasmine and the twin left, and then Marco and A left too. I also hoped Marco would be fine. It had taken a while to get to the station, so if he was treated now... perhaps it might be too late.

I cringed, clenching my teeth together hard. I couldn't allow myself to think about the worst case scenarios.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


We're there, huh? Let's go.

We stepped outside. Mechanically, we wandered to the open doorway. We only had one thing to do, so... We stepped into the lobby. Very shortly, the doors closed behind us. How many times would we have to do this, anyway? I calculated we would run out of stations in... two, maybe three outings.

That's if those maps were all we had access to, at least... I guided E up the stairs. There was a tiny hallway, and the first room I poked my head in was entirely different than the one I had found before with Marco.



A gymnasium! I always wanted to go to one of those. Not that I really... can anymore. It's not really my kind of thing anyway, so I'm not very fit. I can't see you, but I bet you probably went to some in the past, huh?

:confused: I don't know what's weirder, her compliment or the fact she's never seen the inside of a gym at any point in her life. Not even for, like, PE class? Does Canada not have PE classes?



:rolleyes:

Jasmine would probably have hit me if she'd heard my thoughts. It was time to focus on this room.

BGM: Ambient Strain
Before I could do much, I saw E trying to feel her way around the room. She must've understood this place was very spacious and she had a lot of free ground to tread, even if most of it was empty.

Still, I didn't want her to hurt herself by mistake, like walking into a wall for example, so I reached out to her wrist and grabbed it.

Are you concerned about me? It's okay, I can feel the air and, correct me if I'm wrong, it seems like this place is very empty and spacious.



There was something weird about her proposal. Not weird-weird but weird-like... uncomfortably weird. She must've sensed my unease as she corrected herself.

I mean if you find something that has to be manipulated, or can be held, I'd be good at that! And for what it's worth too, I'm rather slim, so...

I wrote to interrupt her in her thoughts.



I could tell by her tone she wasn't taking this seriously.

Guess I can start by giving her some sort of task...



BGM: Auxiliary Search


As always, first thing is to check out the map...



...but there's nothing really to look at. It's a gym. Good to know that door leads to the restroom, though...I'll start with checking out the windows up top.

Hey! Anyone there? We're here! Help!



No, the likeliest explanation was that there was nothing behind those windows. No matter how much I looked inside, it was pitch black, as if a wall had been placed right behind the windows. And they were painted black!

Ceci n'est pas une fenêtre, huh? Window instead of pipe...

Wonder if those pennants have anything written on them?



According to what was written on the flags, they were given to a bunch of high school teams. One of them was for the Lions, one of them was for the Wolves, one for the Eagles, and one for the Rabbits.

Out of all those, I swear the Wolves sound the most dangerous. Who would cheer for the Rabbits?

We know the door leads to the bathroom because of the map, but what's Simon got to say about it?

Nothing beyond there except for the bathrooms.



I still can't wrap my head around all of this...

How about the court markings?



They sometimes use tape because the paint would go away... but I guess it doesn't matter in here, since nobody would use this place. Looks more like a replica of another location. Unless the people who built all this wanted to dunk on each other between sessions of rearrangement. I know for a fact I'd dunk on Marco if he was here. But for E?



I don't dunk on E.

:v: Speaking of E, let's see what she's up to!

I chose to ask E about what she wanted to do, instead of picking for her.



I know you can pick something I'll be helpful at. I trust you.

And she gave me one of those smiles.

I guess I don't mind picking... if you insist that much.

This is the game telling you 'look around some more, stupid!' :v:



I'm gonna look at the safe and the hoop next.

That's a safe. It's safely locked. Pretty simple.

And that's all he says! Nothing about what the lock is like or even an attempt to open it. Thanks Simon! :v:



I looked around the pole, but I didn't see anything particularly different. However, when I made my way behind it, there was something indicated on the back of the rectangular plate.

Squares are... three. What does that mean? Squares have four sides. Surely this has another meaning that would only make sense once I found other stuff... That's how escape rooms work, right?



Might as well check out the cage, too. Not like the ball's gonna be important... :v:

There was an entire area closed off from the rest of the gymnasium. Over here was a place that was remarkably similar to one of the gymnasiums you'd find in a high school or something. Behind there was an actual gym, or a fitness center, or whatever you called them.

Weird distinction... Is Smiley playing a prank on us by having a “gym” and a “gymnasium” in the same room?

No one answered me as usual.



Numbers... numbers... Why is everything numbers? Numbers on our collars, numbers for these passwords, bathrooms for when you do number one or number two... And the biggest number of all, Marco himself, a complete digit.

:psyduck: What... what does that mean, Simon???

I ruffled my hair a little. This door wouldn't open yet.



Before we interact with the cage some more, let's finally pick up the basketball.



This isn't a normal basketball. There are nubs all over it, but I can't figure out what it means. In fact, they aren't evenly spaced either!

I picked up my paper and handed the ball to E. I explained to her that, maybe, there was something for her to do in here, in the end.



:negative:

I rubbed the back of my head. Why did she always... always say it in the strangest way possible?

It's pretty big... I don't know if I can hold something like that properly.



:negative: :negative:





Might as well check out the cage again, see if there's anything of note inside there.

I glanced inside of that space. Something about it was nagging at me. The rack held three different kinds of dumbbells. Their ends were made of three different shapes: circle, square, and triangle.

The top level had five circle dumbbells, the middle level had two square dumbbells, and the bottom level had three triangle dumbbells.

What could this mean? It's clearly important.

Well, there's not much else to do besides checking in on E and the ball again.

The surface of this spherical object is very intriguing. In fact, I would even say it is not a regular basketball. I could feel the lines across the surface, but there were also all sorts of little nubs poking out of it... And if I crossed the surface with my fingers, I could read two things because these things are...



And it says that circle is second. I don't know what that means, but perhaps that can help you?

I acknowledged her help with another piece of paper. She looked overjoyed.

:v: With that, it's not hard to figure out what to do next- but before that, there's another scene we can have with E.

E was pretty busy at this moment. I could've spoken to her, but... Maybe it was better to let her work. Instead, I took a glance around the placea gain, basking in the wide open area and inhaling air deeply.

I was sure if I spoke to her, she would tell me that we should enjoy the time we had here, in this spacious room, all to ourselves. It was the closest to the outside world we had in here. While it didn't have a soft breeze or the birds chirping, or both, it was still, well, relaxing.



But then E broke that silence.

Heeeey-yooo!

Her voice echoed around the gymnasium for only a moment. While she couldn't confirm that it in fact echoed here, I could.

Hooo-eeeey!

Just like her voice, mine echoed too. Granted, hers was much more pleasant to hear.



I put together what I knew of the shapes and numbers so far. According to the two numbers I found, I determined the third. Those shapes were like the dumbbells... And of course, even if there were three numbers, as there were three shapes of dumbbells, knowing two of them allowed me to unlock the cell door. The third one would definitely go in the leftover spot.

Crap! That's not enough. What have I missed...?



Oh, zero is a number too. That must go in the fourth spot.





Weights first, lockers second.

From afar, I could see the dumbbells, but from up close, I realized they weren't real. There was no real weight to them, but they were glued to the rack, as if they weren't meant to be taken out.

Makes sense... This was already used, so no point to it now.



And of course, the actual lockers themselves are pretty useless. Wait... this doesn't tell me the sequence to put all of those numbers in. Dammit!

There had to be something else to do here. After a few moments, I found there was yet another object hidden between the two halves of the lockers- between the fourth and the fifth ones.

Sliding puzzle... I hate those so much. Hey, wait. The surface is kind of 3D. I wonder if...

I gave the object to E after joining her current location.



I didn't even need to answer for her to start toying with it. She was so reliable... when we didn't need to take five million years to communicate one sentence.

This might take me a while. Check in with me again later!



:v: This is basically to let you poke around anything you might've skipped, but I've already looked at everything, so all we can do is just come back to her immediately.

There! I did it.

She spoke aloud when she was finished with the sliding puzzle. It opened, letting a piece of paper fall onto the ground. I grabbed it and read its contents.



ENWSWNENWSE... and then it's got a bunch of directives to follow. According to this diagram, north, east, west, and south are the first, second, third, and fourth lockers...



I took note of all the directions and their corresponding numbers. And then the directives asked me to remove a bunch of them from the lineup...

No... this gives me “east-north, south, east-north, south, east”. Those would be 28283, but... that doesn't work.

I asked E about what she thought was wrong. I needed a bit to translate the entire directives over, but eventually she giggled at me. What? What was so funny?!



I think you need to reform your pairs better.

Crap! She was right. East-north was pretty dumb. Then the answer became “East, south, north-east, south, east” which translated to 38283.

Now what is this for, I wonder?



Gee, I wonder. :v: This bit was the puzzle in the original game, but it made you solve it yourself, and instead of a number code the safe itself had a compass turndial. The answer is the same as what Simon said, so there's not really any point in showing it again.



Great! We're out of here! Assuming this is the end of it...

I opened it and then instantly froze up, closing it again in surprise.

BGM: Abyssal Snarl


Did Smiley put this in there so things would spiral out of control? There was no way anyone wouldn't keep this on themselves after finding it. I looked at E while feeling strangely uneasy. I opened the safe again, and saw there was a code written on the back. It was just another bunch of numbers, but this seemed as though it was our key out of here.

Hey, you're still there, right? Have you found anything else?



There was a gun in there. A loving gun. I definitely couldn't bring myself to use this. No way. No loving way. But I also couldn't let anyone else find it. Wouldn't it be stupid if I left it here and then somehow Ray came into contact with it?

Silence... I hope you're still there. I have something to talk about that I just thought up. It's kind of related to my studies back when I was still at the university...

This was somewhat interesting, so I chased the thought of the gun from my mind for a bit.

BGM: Ascertaining Speech


I felt that way with the puzzle I had to solve. I didn't see it, of course, but I still solved it very fast. I could feel the puzzle, sure, but normally, it would've taken me much longer to have an idea of what it was even about.



And you know how that data could, theoretically, be manipulated or sent, or even received. You know about computers, I'm sure. It's a little like cloud technology. When using that, everything gets saved somewhere- in the cloud- and then anything that has access to the cloud can pull from it.



So maybe... my senses are disabled so I'm forced to pull from the cloud. If I'm given no choice, I either both fail and get no information, or I succeed and...

She motioned at the solved puzzle she still held.

Essentially forcing me to pull from it.

I knew what she meant. So far, I had felt this a little, yes, but I couldn't let myself get caught up in that thought. If this was the code to unlock the doors below, we were free for now. I wrote to her to explain the situation.

BGM: Ambient Strain


And if any of this is true, what is being transmitted... from where... and why?

I had to follow her example. She was still positive and happy, despite all that's happened to her, and she was smart too. I went to unlock all the doors, and made my way back to the safe.

Before we went, I had this to consider. This... gun. I had to take it.

Mix. fucked around with this message at 08:08 on Jul 14, 2021

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



morphogenetic fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeld

Quackles
Aug 11, 2018

Pixels of Light.


More like OwOgenetic field, amirite? :v:

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





BGM: Abyssal Snarl


I wonder... did Ray find it in one of these escape rooms, too? Were they planted here to make us fight each other? If that's the case... boy, I am glad I found this one before anyone else did.

Deciding that had been enough time wasted, I snatched it up and stuffed it into the bag the old man gave me. As I went to fetch E again, I thought at least I had a way to hide it. As long as nobody checked it, the bag would conceal the firearm.

I took her down to the little lobby. Since the doors were unlocked, we could step forward, and back to the station. It was time to give our farewells to this area.



Huh, you're going to confront Ray? But isn't that dangerous?

I reassured her with another message.

How did we get into this situation? This doesn't seem right...

I wordlessly agreed with her in my head. She was right: none of this was correct. The stations weren't right. The participants were all mismatched. Even the trains were somehow different.

And yet, now that I thought about it, we always usually rode the same train. They took a long time to travel through the entire line; they were long enough to make it last around an hour from start to end. So then, why did we always wait so much? There were multiple trains, after all.



Unfortunately, before I could really form up some kind of idea about this place, the train arrived. I took E's hand again and stepped forward. The whole time, she had been silent, perhaps as pensive as I'd been.

BGM: Silence


Stations came by. The train stopped at each of them, but this time around there was not a single soul ready to board the train along with us. On the way between the penultimate station before the lounge and the lounge itself, I realized that I could've made full use of this time by asking E's opinion during our travels. I'd wasted some time.

I also felt tired, so ultimately, I didn't know if I really wanted to proceed with that.



There is literally no reason for this to be a choice, as it doesn't impact the flowchart in the slightest. Also, if you don't talk to her, Simon just sits in silence for the rest of the ride, so we'll talk to her.

I quickly grabbed a strip of paper and wrote my question to her. All it asked was about her thoughts on why the train took so long to arrive every time we used it.



I included that part on the message too. It had happened before already. The chances of that happening were null on the normal metro system: if you didn't specifically come with someone, chances are you'd miss each other.

Hmm... what's the likeliest scenario, I wonder? Maybe there's only one train. Smiley is alone, right? I mean, we can't really know that, but... if you were just one person, what's easier to take over?



That means Smiley may not be operating on a large scale, huh.

The train slowed down just as our “discussion” came to a halt.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
Soon, the train stopped its movements. I snagged E's hand again. I didn't really want to pull her along everywhere, since it felt sort of...patronizing, in a way?

:v: Unlike all the times you have been explicitly patronizing about her disabilities, Simon?

I didn't have a choice, unfortunately.



She followed me into the lobby. For a moment, I expected the door to close behind us, but I remembered this wasn't one of those escape rooms. Finally, we went up the stairs.

Because I had to explore an entire room with E, who was less active than the others, I expected someone else to have come in before us. Yet, no one was here, and there were no traces of anyone coming by since our departure either. I shared that thought with E, who simply nodded and quietly sat down onto one of the couches. There was nothing to do but wait. Again, the thought of the trains taking a while went through my head.



I gotta do something. I'm going insane waiting here doing nothing. Maybe take a walk? No, maybe just take the train and go somewhere? With or without E?



Annoyed, I grumbled something unintelligible even to myself while writing another message on a piece of paper. I gave it to E; it was telling her I was taking a small walk around the station, so I wouldn't be there for a bit. She acknowledged it, and I took off.



I hated wearing the drat thing too much. Something felt off about the situation, but not enough to warrant messing up my hair to this degree. As soon as I stepped out into the station, I heard and saw a train arrive.

Hey, who's that?

I'd come down on the opposite side, so I couldn't see who came out. They were alone. Getting a bad feeling about it, I pushed my hand into the bag and grabbed the gun. Maybe... No, this was too early to tell. I ran back up the stairs.

BGM: Alarming Silence


:stare:



He brandished the gun from earlier. His finger was on the trigger. Did he not realize that was dangerous?

Okay, okay, please put the gun down!

I was trembling. Regardless of what the man was saying, he might kill E like this, and then, he might decide to kill everyone else to hide his crime. People's senses were addled when they drank alcohol, and what he had was just that, right?

No, I ain't fuckin' putting it down. You know what everyone's gonna say, right? “Ray, how could you kill her?” I didn't! I loving didn't, it's what she did that killed her!

It didn't take very long for me to put two and two together. Since he had her head, that meant her collar had activated. The scene was still horrifying, though. Even knowing what might be the truth.

You know this is... super... super serious, right?

Of course I loving know!

Then put the gun down if you're genuine about it!



Not if they also have a weap-

BGM: Silence

Her sprite ran into his here; the implication is she knocked him over, even if it didn't really look like it :v:

BGM: Accelerated Scuffle
The small girl had arrived out of nowhere. The train containing Jasmine and G probably came by while we were having our altercation.

The girl pushed the man down to the ground with surprising strength. Because she caught him off-guard, he needed a moment to get his bearings together. That gave her the advantage.

I didn't do poo poo! She killed herself! She's the person who doesn't belong, anyway!

You liar! You lie, why do you lie?! You killed my sister!

Everything happened very quickly. The two of them got caught up in a ridiculous rolling dance on the floor, while I backed off a little further. I bumped into Jasmine.



No, he has a gun. This isn't safe, anytime now they'll...



Ahh! It hurts! Why?!

The gun Ray held had fired during the altercation. He'd kept his finger on the trigger the whole time, and now, he was reaping his mistake. Right after it happened, the two of them separated.

As soon as he was free from her, Ray rapidly kicked with his legs until his back collided with the wall. He looked positively out of his mind.

This is self-defense... she leaped at me! You saw that, right?!

He pointed at us both, but we couldn't say anything to him. It was more accurate to say we didn't know what to say to begin with.

gently caress! I didn't... I wouldn't... goddamn! I just wanna fuckin' get out! You're all insane...



Hey, Jas, give me a hand, will you?

She didn't seem bothered by my use of her other nickname, even though it partially exposed her name to two others. She probably figured that there was no time to waste. Quickly, she examined G's body. It was difficult to do while the twin was gesticulating.

Please stop moving! We'll help you, okay?

But it hurts! It doesn't stop!



I have to take her to the infirmary quickly. I'll wait there if the others aren't done, but... we really can't afford to waste any time like this.

She looks fine still, what do you suggest...

No, it's just a matter of time. Look where the bullet pierced.

I did notice it was somewhere on her chest, but I couldn't tell exactly. She was howling in pain as a spot of red grew on her shirt. With the way she rolled on the ground, she stained everything redder and redder.

Okay, the blood isn't stopping either...



Jasmine snagged one of the pens from my bag without even asking me. She didn't care which one it was. Finding the wound, she stuck the pen into it.

:stonk:

Ahh! What are you doing...?! It hurts! Stop!

I'm taking out the bullet! Then we'll make something to stop the flow...

With a disgusting sound, the bullet was snagged out by one end of the pen. I left it alone, instead deciding to take off my jacket, leaving me in my shirt. I took that off, too; I needed to use something, but my uniform was all I had. However, the shirt was definitely a better loss than the jacket. If I lost that, it would be my blood on the ground after I contacted my employer.

I'll use this, then. Quickly!



As I secured the cloth around her more firmly, G's blood also got onto my hands.

Jesus gently caress, it doesn't stop!



I helped Jasmine transport G, leaving behind my jacket for now. I'd put the torn shirt back on at least, though looking back at it, that had been a mistake; it quickly got stained with blood, too.

Quick... quick... down the stairs... Careful now.

We were in the lobby shortly. Once again, a train arrived on the other side of the platform. Finally, I let go of G. This whole time, I'd smelled the metallic horror oozing out of her wound. It was positively disgusting, and almost dizzying. I knew we had iron in our blood, but this... Perhaps my senses were heightened as a result of the stressful situation.

You'll be okay?

Yeah, go!



BGM: Abyssal Snarl


And then there was me, blood on my hands, with a half-stained and half-torn shirt on, standing next to H's severed head. This would be difficult to explain.

Good grief! By Euclid, what happened here? Explain yourself, young man.

Marco looked at me strangely.

Listen, it's not what it looks like... I mean, maybe a little, but... I kinda need a better shirt first. I'll explain while I change.



If you wanna know... everything... just look at the head. Look inside of the head...

What is he even saying?

I think he's going a little crazy.

I am not crazy!

Whatever you are, let's take it from the beginning. I came back with E, and then...



She was always reliable and always so calm. I didn't understand how she remained calm, even when faced with someone who was on the verge of death.

I related my arrival to the two of them, followed by Ray's return, Jasmine and the other twin coming in, the fight and its outcome, and finally the ending to this terrible tale. I was thankful they didn't decide to believe any kind of falsehood before I finished talking.

BGM: Algorithm Simile


You are saying that, if I get this right, Ray came back with the young girl's head, proceeded to grow increasingly erratic before the other twin tackled him to the ground. I wonder if we can trust his word, then. This all seems quite peculiar to me.

Yeah... there was a fight, and he ended up shooting G too, no?

Ray didn't offer any comments on his side. He was positively distressed. It was up to me to play some kind of mediator, because I understood that Ray might not have wanted to shoot.

Well... I can't vouch for what happened with H, once he snagged her from us, but I think what happened with G was, at the very least, an accident.



Ah, well, I don't really want to, but I think we should consider that too...

Very well then. However, the fact remains he has a dangerous weapon at his disposal.

I kept quiet about the gun I had. If that fact came out, it would've been very bad news fo rme. Perhaps keeping it had been a mistake... In that moment, I thought to get rid of it, but how?

Since you seem to be more acquainted with him, I will leave the burden of unarming him to you.

Woah, hold up. I'm not more acquainted with Ray than any of you. Just because we shared this little episode earlier doesn't mean anything, even if we're the only remaining participants of that horrible event.



Marco looked at me, worried. I was worried too, but the old man did make some sort of sense. I gave up on my objection to his demand.

Let us rest for a little, chat some to exchange further information, and then we should be off with E to a new station. Given the man's state, it is perhaps better for him to remain here for now.

Ray didn't seem to hear us. It was a little selfish to make this choice without his input. On the other hand, the earlier we were out, the better it was, and our numbers had shrunken to an odd composition. Someone would have to stay out this time, and Ray would most likely be it.

Yeah, let's sit down. We did just come back from a station already. You don't mind?

No, no, go ahead. I'll think about some things, and... talk to Ray, I guess.

BGM: Ambient Strain


Provided I ended by talking to Ray too at least.



:v: This is the game's way of saying 'you can talk to everyone, but Ray will continue the story'. So we'll talk to everyone else first, starting with Agnos!

So, what did you find in the infirmary? Anything special?

No, nothing of the sort. I thankfully got there in time, and your friend recuperated quickly. Either his metabolism is strong, or there's something else at play here.

That's good to know at least. I don't really care about the specifics so long as he's doing fine.

Sometimes, the specifics can be very helpful. You may learn things you've never thought about before.



Still, while we didn't find anything new, we did think it strange that there was an infirmary here. Do you think it was placed here for this very purpose?

Who knows. I can't understand what Smiley is thinking.

All these stations... I can understand the security room, but otherwise... It is as if they were set up this way to form some kind of place where you could co-exist with others for a long time.



That seems a bit far-fetched. I took the metro yesterday, and none of this was here.

It is true that it would be difficult to put all this together without anyone's notice. I am, in the end, as much in the dark as you are, young man.



Okay, alright.

We said our farewells for now, and I went to talk to someone else.

That someone else being Marco.



Oh, no, I don't think we did. I spent almost all of it on that cheap-rear end bed.

What's with you and beds, anyway? You keep harping about the bed I just bought, and now you find that hospital bed cheap, and...

Hey, there's a difference! You still owe me for that bed. The hospital doesn't owe me anything but a bunch of medical bills.

Did you meet someone, like a nurse or something?



The ninth person?

Or maybe someone in their nineties, at least. I'm talking about old man A.

I didn't exactly want to picture A as a nurse in my head, thank you Marco.

He's probably a bit younger than ninety, and he's not a nurse either!



When you say things, my imagination doing something is just natural. Don't say things you don't mean!

Okay, okay. I figured you might have more interest in imagining A as a nurse than me on a bed, torso naked, laying on my side...

:sigh: Marco, not you too...

Oh, whatever! I'll go talk to somebody else, you insufferable squeaker.

Hahaha! I'll see you later.



:negative: Let's just...go talk to E.

I took a piece of paper and filled in E with what happened. The girl immediately gasped when she read what I wrote, putting her hand over her mouth.

Oh no, poor C! I hardly knew them, but they didn't deserve this.

Huh? C?



You should be careful of what you write... That's the only link I have with the, um, outside world. Outside of my head, that is.



Perhaps telling her about the events might've not been the best move I could do. Now she felt bad about it! But knowing was always better than not knowing. At least, that's what I told myself, getting ready to speak with another person.

Well, we put it off as long as we could. Time to talk to Ray about giving us his gun. :v:



What...? You got... something to say?

He wasn't looking at me. The poor man looked crushed. Judging by his change in manners, I could only guess that he truly hadn't killed H.

Uh... how do I say this? The others are unnerved because you have a gun, so... you should get rid of it. I can deal with it, if you want.



The man trembled a little, while sipping from his drink.

BGM: Anaphora Solution


What do you mean, weird? It's just a head.

I internally cackled like a madman when I said those words, not out of insanity, but out of consideration for my choice of words. A head was never “just a head”, it was a severed head, a gross... a... ah, gently caress, I didn't want to think about it.

Before you do, just check the neck. Check through the neck... and leave me here... I'm not gonna do poo poo... til I get out...



Hey, what are you doing?

Ray said to look at the head, so I will.

Can't get his gun?

No. He looks useless enough right now. I can tell he's not going to be an issue anyway, so long as nobody bothers him.



He vacated my location. I took a look where I said I would, even if it felt a little disgusting to do so. It wasn't easy to see, since a lot of the insides were burnt, likely as a result of that laser beam from her collar.

I didn't have a lot of biology classes, but I did remember some of what I was taught. The inside of the neck didn't match with what I knew. For instance, there was this constant smell of metal. Blood did smell like metal, but not like this. The reason for this smell was... there was actual metal inside. Small cables ran along the inside of the neck.

Everything was painted and masked to look like actual organs within. However, if you looked at it from up close, it was definitely a fake head.

Huh... This isn't a real head...?



It was just the inside. There was metal and weird fluids... The stuff on the inside looked like organs, felt like organs, but certainly wasn't made of organs. I decided to take my lunch with me instead of leaving it on the floor, and walked away from it.

So far, nothing makes any sort of sense. Did we find the person who doesn't belong? This head looks made up. It doesn't look like a real head. What about the ninth person?



BGM: Ambient Strain
We should probably get a move on. There's no telling how long it will take J, or if the twin can even be saved in the first place.

Just as I thought, we should head out now. Unfortunately for them, we do have this Dating Game to beat, and we can't stay idle too long.

I agreed. I wanted to get out more than ever, and there was no point in staying here when the ninth person might be eluding us even further. Leaving Ray behind, our trio walked towards the open doorway. On the way, A grabbed E's hand and she followed, understanding we were going to leave.

Carefully, we went down the stairs. We were heading out in the same direction as before.



Let me think... I believe they are the church, and the theater. After those two stations, we will have unlocked and explored this entire side.

Fitting, since we're two teams of two.

The old man smiled as I understood why he chose this side. We waited for the train in silence, only broken by the screeching of the large compartments once they came in from the tunnel.



BGM: Silence
Just the same, the train traveled through several stations without any spoken words. It stopped a few times, and every time, it went off again. After it left the gymnasium station, A motioned at us.

We have to come to a conclusion. I believe we are in one of the rare moments when our groups are a little interchangeable. You see, as you have the bag with the pens, anyone could communicate with E.

I knew what A was getting at: he could group with me if I gave this bag to my friend instead. However, I absolutely didn't want to give Marco this bag, and for obvious reasons.



Hmm? Do you have another way to proceed with this? If you don't want to, that's completely fine. We have all the options open, after all. I personally would be fine going with M again, if you desire to accompany E once more.

Something was odd with his suggestion. I couldn't help but think that he was trying to split Marco from me again. Sure he mentioned how all options were open... But his tone indicated that I was heavily encouraged to go with E at the very least.

I'll think about it really quickly, then. We still have a minute before we get to the church.

Marco shrugged. He didn't seem to care. Perhaps I was being too paranoid after my witnessing of a dead person's head, and none of this mattered.

Whatever it is, I'll go at the next stop. This metro's making me antsy now...

Maybe I should go with you, then.



:v: Whatever you say, pal!

He guffawed in his usual fashion.

And besides, I still have some topics to go over with him, as he'd been passed out for most of our previous exploration.

I see. I'll take that in consideration.

BGM: Alarming 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.



:v: Time to vote!

Mix. fucked around with this message at 08:08 on Jul 9, 2021

MagusofStars
Mar 31, 2012




Let's stay with E again, since it lets us keep hiding our gun for a little while longer. It also gives us the option to lie like a rug and pretend that we found the gun at this station rather than having to admit we've been armed for a while.

Quackles
Aug 11, 2018

Pixels of Light.


So does the fake head qualify as a head-fake? :v:

Also, I bet this branch is going to get a third option later, VLR-style.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





Looks like we're going with E again, this time to the theater.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


I guess I'll take the next station with E. You two can leave at this one.

Take care of her, yeah?

Of course I would. I wasn't some kind of creep or maniac. I gave a half-hearted wave as they disembarked, but neither noticed me. The two of them disappeared beyond the doorframe.

BGM: Silence


I wondered what we'd find once we were at our station. I knew it was a theater, but I didn't know what it meant. Every time I thought about those stations, I always wondered... why? How?

Once more, there was no theater readily in the open through any of the stairs leading up from a station. Those stairs normally took us to the gates which we went through by using a metro pass. They didn't lead us to random rooms like these.

What are you up to, Smiley...?

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


I didn't need them for this first part, since the girl followed as soon as I grabbed her hand. Yeah, normally, handholding could be a lot more embarrassing if you were like... sixteen years old. Obviously I was an adult. This didn't faze me.

:rolleyes:

Wohh! The train left before I even thought about making it to the doorframe.

That was fast! Normally they wait until we're inside... Maybe this is because it's the last station?

BGM: Ambient Strain


Maybe it was just a bad feeling, or maybe it was just my imagination. It was very active sometimes... always imagining worst case scenarios... bah! Finally, I made my way to the staircase. With E in tow, it didn't take long for us to ascend to the theater. The door closed behind us with a soft sliding noise, but I didn't pay attention to it. By now, I knew how this place operated. None of this was surprising to me.

Getting up the stairs was harder than anticipated. E's blindness made it very difficult. Normally, blind people still had their ears to guide them, but someone who was blind and deaf... They didn't have anything but physical contact to guide them, right? Maybe changes in temperature, too...

BGM: Anaphora Solution


It was a miniature theater. Its seats were full. Tons and tons of robots lined up, immobile, facing towards the stage. Some of them had half-fallen over. Many of them were amputees. I approached one and examined it closely.

Eep! Watch out, I almost fell.

I was about to excuse myself but I refrained from it. Instead, I helped her to a seat on the front row before I went back to examine that robot. As usual, she wouldn't be much help.

:v: Simon she literally was vital to solving the puzzle in the gymnasium because she could read Braille, what the gently caress are you on about??



Hah... Fake robot people, huh? I guess it does look kind of disconcerting at first.

I wrote onto a piece of paper to inform E of the situation. While she just read it, I pushed onto one of the robots to test its weight. Maybe they actually were just empty shells.

No, it was somewhat heavy. Tons of cogs and wiring were on the inside, probably.



I did. Everything in this room felt strange. My steps brought me closer to the table set up on the stage. It was the thing that stood out the most.

On it was a box with a piece of paper. It had nothing written on it, but I could faintly make out some markings. Also, it wasn't completely flat to the surface of the table; something was under it. I flipped the sheet over, thinking nothing of it.



A screen at the back of the area lit up with a few numbers. At first, it had shown 10:00, but soon it rolled down to 9:59, 9:58, 9:57...

BGM: Accelerated Scuffle
It was a countdown!

Huh? What does that mean?!

I quickly read the paper over while disregarding the object under it. I would get it momentarily, but first I needed to understand what I had unwittingly triggered.



All will die? What does that mean? Us both, or... everyone-everyone?!

I set the paper aside. My questions found no answers. Looking at the table, I saw a key with a loop that loosely resembled the number nine.

Is this the number nine we're looking for? Wasn't it a person? How do I sacrifice it? Using it would just... it would...

I took a glance over at E, still sitting, quiet; unaware of the situation. This was what we'd searched for, but... it would... It would drat her. No, it would kill her. I refused to mince words. Desperate for help, no matter the form it took, I shoved a hand into my jacket. There, I found my cap and I hesitantly put it on. I hated wearing it, but maybe this would help me find a way out of this mess, somehow.

There has to be some other way. I need to seek a way out.

:allears:



BGM: Active Search


Well, before we start looking at all the stuff in here, we gotta check the map!



Hmm, something seems odd this time around, but I can't put my finger on what it might be. :v: Anyway, I want to start by checking out the stands some more, because robots!



If anything is happening, don't be afraid to share with me!

Yeah, I couldn't do that. She probably realized something was amiss, because I tried to lift a robot not too far from her. Either way, the timer was ticking down, I was quickly running out of things to search!



So this is a new addition to the remake, since there's an actual investigation system this time. Previously, Simon just kinda did all his poking around in text form, so you couldn't exactly “run down the clock”. It's impossible to look at everything before time runs out, but I went and grabbed everything you have the option of looking at, so nothing will be missed. :thumbsup:

To continue the investigation, I want to check out that balcony over the entrance.




Unfortunately, there was no staircase leading up there, either from the hallway or from within this room.

Is this inaccessible? I don't understand. I should come back with something that can help me get up there.





Something like, say, that ladder in the backstage area, maybe?



Still, there was a ladder. Even if the time was running out, I could maybe go check out that door in the back of the entrance side with it.



Usually, when you were presented with two options, there was always a third, more hopeful one, no? Even if we had to make it ourselves... I had to keep looking around. I needed to find that third option.

The act of actually obtaining the ladder is its own separate action. So I guess we'll do that! :v:

I grabbed the ladder and it automatically became a part of my inventory. I couldn't stuff it down my pockets, but I could carry it over anywhere else in the immediate. How did the boy with the green tunic do it, anyway? Didn't he carry an entire raft and a grappling hook.. and a sword, a shield, bombs, arrows, a bow, and so much more? I really needed some kind of bag of holding to carry all of this with me.

Since it was so cumbersome, if I dropped by this side again, I'd leave it here. Whether I was done using it or changed my mind about it didn't matter.



I didn't care even if it was an asspull solution! Oh God, please, save E and me!



That's right, we still have to actually carry it over and use it. Simon spent two minutes staring at the ladder. :v:

I found a ladder, so I used it to reach this balcony. By putting the ladder at the very top of the rows of seats, I could reach up there and sneak over the railing. I quickly went over to the door to try and see if it would open.

However, the handles didn't budge. In fact, the door didn't move either when I pulled. It didn't look locked; it looked like it wasn't a door. And before any smartass decided to ask if I pushed on the door, too, I did and the result was the same. After another long look around, I realized the door wasn't leading anywhere. On the other side of the wall was nothing but empty air- the hallway outside was very tall, and the corresponding spot there was nothing but a wall.



:v: Surprise! This isn't the solution, it's a red herring that uses up almost all of your timer to actually find out! That said, there's still other stuff to look at, as well as the option to try and talk to E. I'm gonna start with the entrance hall.



drat it! I should've checked the map more closely! I could've seen this obvious setup!

This was a trap. There was only one way back out- the way E and I just came from. I shook my head, focusing on the search in this room instead. Nowhere to go but up from here.

I wonder if the hanging lights have anything worth examining? There could be a clue hidden up there.



Wait, poo poo, the search! I couldn't get caught up by something stupid like that. Those lights wouldn't guide me out of my predicament.

:allears: This, somehow, takes Simon two minutes to realize. All that's left to poke at is the stage itself and the table.



The point was, they wouldn't be in any way helpful to me, and I wasted some time; it was yet limited, and I had to do something more productive with it.

:v: Somehow this ALSO takes Simon two minutes. I'll look under the table, then check out the box sitting on top.

That was the desk on stage with the box in which I could discard the key and the paper telling me to do it. Nothing else was underneath it. If this was used in, say, a magic show... I thought perhaps there might've been a trapdoor for disappearing acts. However, there was none of this here. It was all solid. A normal theater, then.

If only there had been a way out here... I could've pulled my own disappearing act, and vanished from this place. If I didn't figure out something, anything, I'd vanish from the world.



This is what it meant by sacrifice, then. If I drop it in there, it'll count as saving everyone's lives?

I swallowed. If I did this, I might be losing my only chance at escaping this place. The alternative wasn't amazing, either. Was this choice meant to make us fight for it? If I had been in a team with someone who knew what was happening, surely things would be far different... Now, the choice was up to me.



Looking at the box gives you the option to drop the key in and end the investigation immediately by making your choice- that is, by choosing to sacrifice the key rather than E. However, there's still the option to talk to E, but, well...



Information could be like a curse, right? There exist “information hazards”, where simply knowing something would cause you harm. This was one of those. I wanted to ask her, but I really couldn't afford it. The pain of this choice wasn't hers to bear.

That's right... it wasn't hers to bear. It also wasn't my pain to bear, either. Neither us nor anyone else in this place should have to handle this whole situation in the first place. I clenched my teeth in disgust. This place was... horrible.



What a dilemma. The more I thought about it, though, the more it made sense not to use the key to leave. Where there was life, there was hope.

All this thinking had taken its toll on the time I had left. Soon, there was almost none of it. I held my head in my hands, squeezing tightly. drat it! drat it all! What could I have done?! The more I tried to get back to the search, the more I decided that sacrificing E wasn't something I wanted to do! I didn't have a choice, then!

If you try to talk to E, no matter what else you've done, the timer runs out. Which brings us back to what happens if the time runs out...

poo poo... this... I can't do it. My will is not strong enough...

That was it. There was barely any time left. I had to pick now. The timer was ticking down. I had to pick now! The only option I believed was fine was... this one!

BGM: Ambient Strain


Not to mention, sacrificing someone else for my own gain? That wouldn't win us this strange game. The victory conditions were absurd to begin with. But I didn't have the time to think about that yet. Right now, I had to focus on the issue at hand. The timer was almost up. Ten minutes would soon have passed if I did nothing.



If you run out of time, Simon makes the decision to sacrifice the key. There's no dialogue difference whether you run out the clock or manually make this choice while exploring the room.

Applause rose from the crowd of robots again. Of course, they were the same stock sound as earlier, and they didn't really come from actual people congratulating me on doing the right thing. Despite that, it felt like they were telling me I took the right path. That now, everything would be fine.



BGM: Anaphora Solution


You may believe this to be unfair, but betrayal is part of life as well. It is not betrayal from me, however. You have betrayed yourself. Still, perhaps in a corner of your mind you believe this to be acceptable.



I do hope you have given your due farewells to your friends beforehand.

I took E's hand into my own while he spoke, until I realized he was done. In fact, he wasn't on the screen anymore. It had become pitch black once again. E was smiling, as though she'd understood the predicament I'd been in before. Whether that was the case, I couldn't know. Maybe she sensed my unease in here?

Some of Smiley's words were indeed weighing down on me, though. He spoke of a cage of my own making. I tested that theory. I walked towards the door in the back of the room, behind the desk. E was contently following along, still without a care in the world.



My other hand closed upon the handle. I turned it, and just like I figured, it was locked. Now that I'd thrown the key away, there was no opening this. Still, I had to try. I rammed my body into it. I gave up very quickly, as this only made me dizzy. Just like we'd confirmed much earlier at Ray's demand, I could now also confirm even the doors leading outside from each station were impossible to bust through. Only one thing to do, then: I'd leave this station and bring E back to the others, so that we could continue our escape attempts.



I went down, and... oh, this door didn't have any sort of doorknob, that's right. The only way to open it was with a code. I didn't have any code, though. I was slowly becoming more and more frustrated by the moment. Was there something I overlooked? I went back upstairs with E, taking a quick glance in the bathroom at the end of the hall before entering the theater again.

BGM: Alarming Silence


There was only one door back, strangely enough. Normally, each station covered the entire room overhead, right? So you could go down both sides... but this one only had one door. Only one accessible side. I had no idea what this meant, exactly.

Is there something wrong?

I considered how I should tackle the problem with E. Clearly, we weren't going anywhere anytime soon. But since this was the end of the line... I thought perhaps someone might stumble onto this station and help us from outside, if I waited long enough. Or maybe there was a secret passage!

I wrote a message to E. I was going to search around a little further. E beamed at me, deciding to leave it in my hands, as she was of no use otherwise.

I'll stick around, then! We've got some comfortable seats here.

I left her in one of the theater rows, in a spot empty of robots. At least she wouldn't have to sit around these... strange, uncanny machines.

I touched the walls. I believed maybe there was a secret passage somewhere that could lead down to the station, on the other side. And yet... My search was fruitless. There had to be something to do, somewhere to go to. I searched for something. I didn't know what that something was, but I figured it would be a better use of my time than waiting without doing anything.

BGM: Alarming Situation




When I was given the key to leaving this place, it wasn't just a key to leave the entire subway train system. I twas a key to leave this very station too. Perhaps... there was no way out. I still had to seek a way out, though. I couldn't stand doing nothing.

I sort of knew what happened to people who were in total isolation. They went completely insane after a while, already having hallucinations after a few days at best. Inaction could just, at any moment, rob me of my sanity. If I was alone, it would be worse... but I wasn't alone, was I?



Before that thought was made manifest, I already had begun walking towards her. It was a silly notion, anyway. If I left her alone, she'd go crazy too, especially due to her circumstances!

I wrote a message to E after sitting down with her. I told her every event that had happened here. She looked a little concerned, and she had every right to be.

I really wonder... How did we even end up in here? It doesn't matter, I guess... as long as we're still alive...

I agreed with her. I was still alive and I just had to think. But her hand in mine made it increasingly hard to do so. Something flashed within my head.



I wrote it on another paper. Strangely enough, she looked very... happy.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
You know, even though we're stuck here, I think that's fine for me. Do you agree?

I agreed. I readied my papers so I could communicate with her.



We were at the mercy of the others finding this place anyway. We waited for dozens of minutes.

Half an hour went by.

A whole hour passed us.

Two hours eventually elapsed.

By the time the five hour mark came by, I wasn't even thinking about escaping anymore. She and I both were enjoying each other's company. No, nothing gross. Just wholesome pastimes.



We discussed things of all kinds. Escape? That didn't matter. I didn't even care.

Perhaps this was all that was important. If my friends couldn't find me, if no one came to help, if nothing else happened, then we would help each other remain sane.

This room... was a world of our own making. You may think it to be only make-believe, but for us it was real. After a longer time had passed, I started to believe this was really all I needed.

BGM: Anaphora Solution


She and I were both happy, together like this. Her disabilities weren't even on my mind anymore. Escaping wasn't on my mind anymore. Smiley wasn't on my mind anymore.

Everything was right as it should've been.



Everything was right... as it should've been. Darkness would be coming for me soon, but I didn't care.

Everything was... right... as it should've been.

Deep inside, a malignant darkness was growing, as if I remembered I should have been doing something, yet still wasn't doing it.



BGM: Silence
As the darkness came, I screamed, internally. Quietly. Eternally.





Next time, we take another option.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Liking the writing surrounding E less and less.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?



I think part of it is that we've been getting basically every exploration section with her back to back :v:

But yeah, it's really frustrating how often Simon keeps bringing up her disabilities; I don't think the creator really grasped how constantly writing these kind of microaggressions (that she doesn't even know are happening!!!) just makes Simon a huge rear end in a top hat. From my experience with the original version of the game, I know her actual writing is handled fine, but you can definitely tell there wasn't any kind of sensitivity reader or feedback about 'hey, the fact your characters keep referencing a person's disability in a negative way is kind of awful actually' :sigh:

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





Last time, upon entering the theater, we were given a key with the number 9 on it and told we had to either sacrifice it to save everyone, or use it and “sacrifice our partner”. Choosing to sacrifice the key gave us a bad end. Maybe the other option will, somehow, give us a better ending? :v:

BGM: Active Search


You may have noticed I didn't touch the door at any point in the last update. That's because the door is how you indicate you would rather use the key instead of sacrificing it. However, Simon isn't so sure.



I refused to think about it again. However, if I used this door, it would definitely happen. I just needed to steel my resolve if this was my... selfish choice. There had to be another way out of this mess... wasn't there?

Examining the door, of course, runs down the clock by two minutes.



I tried to fight it off with all my strength. Using this key would do something horrible. I still thought, perhaps, there might've been another way out.

I decided to hold off for that point in time. Maybe... if I came back to it, once more, maybe then I would do it. Maybe then I would turn into a complete monster.

It uses two minutes each time you think about using the key, instead of sacrificing it.



I asked no one in particular. My body was like mush. Well, if that was God's will, there was nothing I could do about it. Put in this situation, did I really have a choice?

Simon really doesn't want to use the key. And I mean, who can blame him, considering Smiley's choice of words? You have to examine the door three times for him to do so.

BGM: Advancing Shadows


No, that was incorrect: I had one. It was the idea that if I didn't do this... then I might end up trapped here. Then all of our search would've been useless.

I would give it to her and allow her out, but I didn't want to die. She wasn't in a state where she might do it, either. If I shared this information with her, I didn't think she would do it. She'd probably get scared of it, and then I would lose all the confidence I built up for this.



I knew I was horrible for deciding this; I didn't need to be told. I slapped my cheeks and groaned in disbelief. Was this really what this place reduced me to?

If I don't do this without thinking about it... then I never will! Ugh! There...!

I inserted the key, I stopped thinking about it, and finally, I twisted it into the lock. The door opened.

BGM: Silence


With a sickening, loud buzzing, E's collar activated, creating that cauterizing laser we were told about. I did the worst thing imaginable for myself.

I turned around in my stupidity. No! I didn't want to think about it! I didn't want to see it! Then why?!

BGM: Advancing Shadows


More applause came from the speakers around the room. They were congratulating me... for killing her. I felt unbelievably sick. I vomited right then and there.



I was slowly turning insane. This was enough to trigger so many negative emotions inside my head I thought I was turning completely insane.

I approached the body. I didn't want to. But I had to. Something in me just, felt, bad.

It was all his fault. It was all Smiley's fault. The neck was charred, fuming from the intense cooking of the laser. No! I didn't want to see!

But I did, and I wanted to bring her out too.



:thumbsup: I'm sure this is fine.

I knew she wasn't. But I denied reality. I grabbed the body and pulled it with me. I grabbed the head and carried it with me. I didn't know what I was doing anymore. Maybe, deep in my head, this was some kind of twisted way to apologize to her. Maybe if I did this, then she would... leave too.

I carried the corpse with me as I left the room, through the door.



The headless marionette with me was a result of my actions. I brought her through the darkness. After stepping for what felt like minutes in a very slow zombie waltz, I stumbled upon an elevator.

Numerous buttons.

Numerous floors.



Negative. Losses. The loss of E.

I pressed the button labeled 0 at the very bottom and swallowed, stopping myself from feeling nauseous again. I wasn't looking at the body following me. It came with me.



Maybe I was a zombie, too.

BGM: Ascertaining Speech


Perhaps it was because there needed to be the choice I wouldn't have normally made. It was a little fastidious, but I recalled, in this very moment, something called... The Many-Worlds Interpretation of the flow of time.

Perhaps the only way I could cope with the horrible situation was by remembering something dumb, like this. According to that, time flowed forward until someone had a choice to make. Each option of a choice would then split time into two timelines: one in which the first option was selected, and one in which the second was chosen instead.



Was he happier? Why couldn't it have been this version of me?

As I held my head in my hands, I contemplated the idea that I was, perhaps, left in the worst possible outcome. I was leaving this place, but not in a humane way.

The person who was using this elevator was no longer a person, or even a human anymore. They were a monster. I was a monster.

BGM: Abyssal Snarl


E's body was haunting me. I didn't know what was real. I didn't know what was a lie.

I didn't even realize where I was going for the longest time past that point. As I walked out of another staircase, I found myself above ground. The building had seen better days.

However, I noticed nothing of that. It was like I couldn't even see anymore. It was as if there was only darkness before me.



Without E?

BGM: Silence






BGM: Anaphora Solution


And Montreal itself was...

Degradation.

Desolation.

Destruction.

Everything was destroyed. The sky was completely red. Small clouds flew overhead, but I couldn't tell if there was any sunlight.



I could see corpses here and there, scattered around. Not a single soul was alive.

Hahahaha! It's all loving destroyed! End of the world! Why am I not surprised?! This is a nightmare, after all! I'm gonna wake up any minute now!

I wandered through the streets, laughing like a maniac. I'd gone insane. I could recognize that fact. I wasn't really insane, but...



Or perhaps this vision of the outside was wrought by E's death. Maybe I was substituting the lovely future I was seeing now as a result of my own actions, like I was in purgatory or something.

This is what she died for! A loving ruined world! Was it war? Time? A catastrophe? Who loving cares, right?! Hahahahahahaha!

I laughed in the face of emptiness.

Like a zombie, I walked around. Half-alive, not even all there anymore- that was me: a total shell of myself. An rear end in a top hat. A selfish rear end in a top hat.

BGM: Silence


BGM: Accelerated Scuffle
Huh? What? Are you making GBS threads me?





The letter L was in the middle. Five letters long, the middle was L.

No, “killed” had six letters, not five. But for some reason, I was thinking about a word with five letters. Not a word, no... close to a word, but not a word. Five letters, middle was L.

Why did I think that just now? My mind was shutting down. This was most likely some kind of chemical reaction related to death. I couldn't even see anything anymore.

I couldn't think anymore.

I couldn't think about E's death anymore. Liberation finally came, even if I was unworthy of it.

Just like that, in the middle of a ruined Montreal, I expired.

My headless body fell in the ruins, and everything went completely dark.

BGM: Agnostic Shutdown




Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





BGM: Anomalous Sepulchur
Like before, I'm going to show some of the old version's art to compare to the current version; this time, it'll be for the gymnasium and the theater.

-The gymnasium:



-The theater:



-----

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
Update 4 let us choose between four people to talk to while Jasmine and G entered their codes to unlock the lounge, and I went with H for the update itself. Here are the other three conversations you can have, starting with Agnos.



Hey, A, I was wondering if...

Please be quiet, I need to find this thing. It'll only take a moment.

I saw him frown. It felt unusual to see him in such a state of hurry. What was he looking for exactly, anyway? His bag was pretty big, so it had to contain a lot of things. I caught myself thinking it was strange that Smiley left him with all of this, while he took everything we had. Was our stuff in this bag? No, no, there was no way. Eventually, he stopped searching.



You mean, something you had isn't there anymore?

That is unfortunately correct. You wouldn't happen to have seen a little rectangular gadget that can open, with a screen and keyboard inside it, have you?

That's a PDA, right? No, I haven't seen that.

Ahh... I guess I should've been more careful. I can't believe I've lost it.

Maybe Smiley took it?



That's true! So unfortunate. I don't have one of those newfangled phones, so I make do with what I know. Speaking of, do you have a phone?

No, Smiley took it from me.

Ahh, then that makes sense. Thank you, young man. Let us be on our way now, they have unlocked the door.

We both went back to the group.

And that's Agnos. Next, what happens if we talk to Marco...



If J would've had her hair dyed blue instead, she'd be a blue jay!

Oh shut up, why did I even want to talk to you?

Hey, that's not very nice. I'm just making joke. You know? Joke. It's joke.

He made a few motions with his hands, while he purposefully spoke in broken English.



What does that even mean?

Oh, frazzled? Exhaustion or something like that. I wanted to be a bit fancy.

Feels more informal than fancy to me... but anyway, I guess they're about done now.

He did have a point with his argument too.

So I guess, thanks for, uh, lifting the mood. Even if your methods are questionable at best.



He moved away with a big grin.

Yeah, and can't spell questionable without “quest”, as in 'Simon's quest to escape the terrible curse known as Marco”...

I joined the others after grumbling some words to myself.

:v: Lastly, there's Ray.



So, what do you make of this?

Of what?

This whole thing. You know, being trapped in here and...

Honestly couldn't give a poo poo if I didn't have to. I have business to take care of. I have things to do. I don't have time to get stuck in here with a bunch of kids and a grandpa.

He took a swing from his flask. I tried understanding the situation from his point of view, but it was rather difficult. We definitely didn't have the same priorities in life.



He exposed his flask again, as if proving a point. I frowned slightly.

Wait, your business is to drink?

What's it matter to you? What if it's about this drink?

I was going to think about it, and consider your point of view, but if you're just saying you want to get out of here to drink til you pass out... no thanks, then!



He left my vicinity. The more I spoke with him, the more unlikable he became in my head.

-----

BGM: Ambient Strain
After Simon determines he should focus on finding the odd person out, he has a choice of four people to talk to in the lounge (before Marco collapses due to his food allergy). I rolled a die and we went with H in the update, but here's the conversation you get when you speak to Agnos.



In what manner do you mean?

Like, this whole setup... that “try to find who doesn't belong” kind of thing.

Ah, I see, like “spot the differences”! A very popular kind of puzzle, if I may say.

:v:

Maybe not so much these days. That's not really what I meant, anyway... I mean... what do you think it means?



That doesn't make any sense.

Since we weren't alone, others were eavesdropping on our conversation. H took a sip of her drink, apparently finding the man's suggestion hilarious.

Ah, well, probably not. I was only joking with that one anyway. Chances are that the person who is not like the others is simply more informed than the rest.

I listened to him, but I kept my wits about me. Something he said didn't seem right. If I trusted him at face value, he wasn't the one who was different... and yet, perhaps he was. I had to remind myself that even A might be a liar, just like anybody else.

And then Marco collapses. The next conversation you can have here is with Ray.



Hey, Ray.

I decided to man up and stand to join his side. He didn't look very welcoming, and the second I called for him, he gave me a dismissive wave. I wasn't deterred by his attitude, though, so I insisted.

Listen, I want to talk about the paper...



You didn't talk at all, so...

Anyway, go away. I'm trying to think.

I didn't go for the obvious sting, or else I might've ended up sprawled on the floor and barely conscious.

That might be the case, but it's about the paper...

Yeah? What about it?

Do you know anything else? Did the paper come with anything else, or...

No. There was just the paper. Is that all?

Yeah, I guess.



Before you go, listen. I think A's planning something. I dunno what his game is, but I'm gonna get to the bottom of it soon.

Do you suspect him of anything?

He's got some weird stuff in his bag. I caught a glimpse earlier, so I'm gonna try to get info on that out of him. I dunno when, but soon.

He released me. I didn't know what he would be going for. I was just hoping he wouldn't beat up the old man, or worse... But I had to admit I also harbored similar thoughts. A part of me was... unsure about A.

...and then Marco collapses. :v: Last conversation option is with E.



I took a piece of paper and started writing with the pens. Once I made a few questions in advance, I joined her and notified her I wanted to talk by giving her shoulder a tap.

Oh, who's there? Did you want anything?

Since I didn't greet her like A, I figured she must've been confused about who it was. Quickly, I wrote my name on the first question's piece of paper, too.

Ah, it's you! Let's see... you want to know more about my disabilities?



I don't mind talking about them. It was a difficult experience, though, so please bear with me. It happened half a year ago... I was alone at home. I was taking care of my laundry when everything went dark. I passed out somehow, and to this day I've yet to know exactly why...



Three men with lab coats approached me once they saw I was awake. They put me through several tests and checked my vitals. There were no words exchanged, and they only watched me.



They wanted to test something with someone whose senses were removed, I only remember that. Then they did that... they removed some of my parts.

:stonk:

My stomach churned a little. I felt sick at that revelation. They removed her organs?! Her eyes and her ears... they were just gone?!

The headphones I wear and the blindfold I have aren't normal... they're both made to perhaps recover my senses. You could think of them as 3D printers.

Since we can't get to this point without getting the first ending, we already know that, but obviously Simon doesn't.



It may sound ludicrous, but I assure you it is the truth. I hope that can satisfy your curiosity.

She smiled. Despite it all, she didn't abandon her optimism. While turning to take another piece of paper, I dropped the lot onto the ground in my hurry. drat it! I moved as quickly as I could to recover the messages and ask her, though it took a while.

By the time I was back up, E had already gone, feeling her way to the couches. Further interrogation would have to wait for a later time.

-----

BGM: Anomalous Sepulchur
We're now three endings into HASC, and here's what the flowchart looks like:



So, we still have a lot of options for where to go from here, so vote where you you would like to pick up from next time. The options are:


-When we chose to pair with Marco and investigated the library
-When we chose to pair with E again and investigated the theater
-When we chose to go on a walk with A, instead of staying at the lounge
-When we were trying to decide what to do with the gun we stole from Agnos, after he killed everyone else

malkav11
Aug 7, 2009


That was a "Good End?" Jeez.

Also will be interested to see if any of the other (non-True) endings involve actually making it outside and whether the apocalyptic surroundings are legitimately what's out there or if it's somehow specific to that path.

Jade Rider
May 11, 2007

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




Let's try staying at the lounge this time.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





Putting the same kind of recap here like I did before, but updated to reflect the path to the branch we're about to take.

Simon is on the metro train post-exams with his roommate Marco and his old childhood friend Jasmine, who he has not seen for several years. He seemingly wakes up from a nap to find himself alone with Jasmine, still inside the train but stopped at a strange station that neither of them recognize. Agnos and E are already there, and Ray, Marco, and the twins G and H soon follow. A strange masked figure appears on a screen at the station, introducing themselves as Smiley, and states that they are to take part in a death game called the Dating Game, where they must travel to different stations and attempt to find the ninth person, as their collars only go from 1-8, in order to 'solve' the game and escape.

Simon chooses to pair up with his roommate, Marco, for the first venture out into the metro network, and the two leave the train to find themselves at a station which holds a large, multi-level library. After exploring and solving the puzzle, Marco mentions that he recognizes Ray as being a teacher at the university the two attend, but doesn't know anything about the other four. All of the groups gradually return to the starting station, which they have determined to be their base of operations. Ray reveals that during their exploration, he and Jasmine found a note that implies one of the players is an outlier or traitor of some kind, causing tension between the group.

Each group enters the code they obtained while exploring into the panels beside the door, and find a lounge and bar area upstairs. After exploring the new location, A offers to mix some (non-alcoholic) drinks for the group. After discussing a recent bombing in a New York Subway, Simon finds himself lost in thought over the note Ray found. Rather than focus on who the supposed outlier is, he decided the better course of action was to try and figure out what linked everyone- why they were chosen to participate in the death game. After a fight breaks out between H and Jasmine, the group breaks up into teams once more to explore some of the other stations.

Simon and Jasmine find themselves at a lab with a strange locked room that, even after solving the lab's puzzles, remains closed off to them. Upon returning to the trains, the two talk with A and E about the lab they found, but Simon is caught off guard by Jasmine's uncharacteristic interest in him when the two find themselves alone in the lounge. After being joined by most of the others, Simon leaves to get some fresh air, and is met by A, who seems to want him to join him on a trip to one of the previous stations. Last time we were here, we agreed, but this time, we're gonna stay behind. :v:


BGM: Ambient Strain


Jasmine's behavior weighed heavily on my mind, too. There was something a little... wrong... with her. If I stayed, perhaps something bad might happen too. Something bad might happen... such as getting into a real relationship. I was so afraid of commitment.

:rolleyes:

I scratched the side of my head in my indecision.



BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


Well... couldn't we have a stroll here, then? If we have to decide our next teams soon, we might be better off remaining here.

I did try to disguise my lack of trust by a sensible suggestion, but I could sense that he wasn't buying it. This old man generally acted in our best interest. However, a part of me believed that was a lie. Normally, I'd have gone with him, but that little voice was too loud for me to ignore. If I went with him, I thought, I'd get roped into something I couldn't come back from.

I suppose that could work, then. Very well, let us take a walk around the lounge.



Perhaps it would have been simpler to bring him to the others. If we were surrounded by them, he probably wouldn't ask me about whatever it was he planned to do. However... Doing that would also potentially put Jasmine in peril. If it had anything to do with the station we'd just explored, I should have counted myself lucky he went for me and not her.

Then again, I didn't really know why I believed what he wanted to ask me was about the stuff we saw at the station. It was a little... odd. For some reason, I just knew. I also knew going there would lead to unsavory events. Nothing good could come out of that outcome. I decided it was better to try and pass some time doing useless stuff.





Since we've had an Active Search here already, there's no need to check the map again. That said, since Simon doesn't want to talk to A, I'm gonna look at literally everything else first and save that for last. :v:



It's always happy hour somewhere. Though, I guess this isn't really what people call “happy hour”. I could barely reach the gemstones embedded in the wood. Who put a clock that high on the wall? Maybe it was to dissuade us from messing with it.



However, its name eluded me. I was sure this thing had a name.

A, do you know what this part is called?

Ah, this is the... um... this is...

He, too, was at a loss when confronted with the name of this thing.



So you don't know what it's called, I see.

No, no, I know what it's called. I just... can't remember.

He didn't know, then.

Wait, I recall! It is a 'flip-up' counter.



For all the luxury this place offered at first glance, a lot of things sure didn't work, or were outright broken here.



It looks good, doesn't it? I cleaned it up earlier. I even made sure it had a nice lavender fragrance with one of the products from under the counter.

Leaning forward, he sniffed the countertop a little. I could tell the scent was fairly light in the air even when I was about half a meter away from it.

Yeah, I guess so.

The lamps were giving off an eerie light. I didn't mess with them, and looking straight at the bulb was like looking directly at the sun: not fun, and it hurt my eyes.



There were a lot of bottles laid out in the open. It was almost scary how many kinds there were.

:v: This just proves Simon has never set foot in a bar before despite being, like, 24.



All of these are alcoholic, right?

Indeed. That's why I didn't mess with them. Most of us can drink them here, of course, but I think we must remain levelheaded if we want to make it out of here.

He glared over at Ray. Specifically, the ones A had taken in order to mix our cocktails had been under this counter. Perhaps those would be worth investigating. If I did so, however, I would certainly not get to explore more.



Thinking about it, this meant continuing on wouldn't be an issue, as it would be inevitable that he'd keep tailing me anyway.



Interacting with the bottles progresses the story, so we'll check out the stools and talk to Agnos first.

I wondered why these seats never had anything to lean back against. I knew this was what a stool was, but why was there no back? Was it because drunks who stayed up late leaned forward onto the counter? That really couldn't be good on their backs.

I could've sat there, but I also could've not. And I chose not to.

So... how did you get to be a barista, anyway? And what's with the specific word used in this case?

Oh, I just fancy myself a nice beverage once in a while. At my age, it's difficult to find the little pleasures of life anymore. I have to take them where I can. And I do enjoy speaking well where I may. Hopefully you find this appropriate, given my advanced seniority.



And that's the end of this exploration section. Time to check out the drinks on the wall!



You won't get to open those. I tried. That's how I knew they were refrigerated. If you put your hands against the surface, you'll feel it.

I did as much, and true enough, the surface was cold. Wait... touching metal that was cold was a very bad idea! The skin could get stuck due to the ambient heat, and...

I pulled away from it. Oh yeah. You needed to have it wet, so it froze and stuck there, like a tongue. Or maybe not. I didn't know how it worked.

The bolts are too big for us to open. We'd need some serious handy tools for this...

Was there anything else you wished to take a look at, then?



Ah, yes, the other drinks. There are many, aren't there? I actually looked at all of them earlier, and none of them seem to be alcoholic down there.

Why would you have a bar, but have nothing alcoholic?

Well, if you wanted to have alcoholic drinks, there are some on the counter. However, I wouldn't trust them. They've been kept out of a fridge for what looks like months, perhaps. It's possible the fridges below are there just for show, and this is all there is.

I opened the little cupboards under the counter- the ones that weren't bolted shut. These enclosed drinks were refrigerated too. But no matter which one I opened, they all contained drinks for kids. One could argue stuff like soda wasn't for kids, and I'd be in agreement, though.



I couldn't read the labels. A lot of them were foreign languages. I could only guess what they were about based on the pictures, if there were any. So... how did Smiley get all this, anyway? Was he rich? I figured some of the drinks here were actually much older than I was. That fact was confirmed momentarily when A spoke again.

None of those doors were locked up, surprisingly enough! And what's more interesting, all of these bottles might not be alcoholic, but they are fairly old. I believe they may all be older than I am. Which is strange, because normally, you'd be worried over expiration dates, yes?

I was about to reply and agree, but when I took a look at him, he seemed even whiter than usual. His skin was pale as if he'd realized something.

BGM: Alarming Silence


Unfortunately for me, I wouldn't learn what he'd just thought about. As if the devil himself had chosen this moment to ruin everything, a scream pulled me out of my contemplation. Perhaps what he was looking at was what made him feel such fear.

The old man was already observing the situation from above the counter. I rose up too, and the sight came, grim and strange.

BGM: Anaphora Solution
[

:stare:

Whichever this one was, she was wailing against the pink-haired girl, screaming and tearing up a storm.



The twins hadn't come back yet. How were they here? I'd have known if they'd have come back. I was waiting for it to happen. Come to think of it, where was Ray? He wasn't there. Ray and Marco weren't there, in fact.

The entire room was moving. As I watched everything in slow motion, a splitting headache ran through my head. It was freezing me on the spot. Where... was... Marco? Where was Ray...? Why were the twins here? In the span of a single moment, I realized they had been here for a while.

Somehow, my memory of Marco and Ray being here was false. The twins had returned first instead.



I finally put together that this twin was G. H was an impostor...? What was Jasmine saying? A was on the move too, but whatever he did, I didn't know as I sank back under the counter.



Let go of me! She... she assassinated her...!

I was holding my head in pain as the others tried to handle the situation. Something in me was wrong. I was still fixated on that strange moment when Ray and Marco were replaced by the twins.

Graaahh! What the gently caress is this?!

BGM: Accelerated Scuffle


A small flashback enlightened me. Right, she disappeared when we went to the laboratory, didn't she? Did she... did she grab the knife back then? Why? Was it for this? Had she planned to kill H already?



I moved forward and tried to grab my friend to stop her from fighting the twin. Yet, as I reached for her, Jasmine dodged my hand and instead elbowed me in the face.

Ow! Jasmine!

Considering the situation, I didn't care about the nicknames anymore. Jasmine slipped out of my grasp to grab the knife and, in the same movement, G kicked A in the knee, making him lose his footing just long enough for her to sprint out of his hold.

Jasmine deflected the girl running at her with her free hand, and...





:stonk:

The impostors! All of them will get it! Every impostor here has got to die! Ha! Haha! Hahaha! Hahahaha! Hahahahaha! Hahahahahaha!

Jasmine had stabbed him in an important place, since he seemed to have gone into shock. Moments later, I thought for sure that he had expired. All the color remaining in his face was draining away.

His breathing had already ceased the moment she stabbed him. Perhaps she'd gotten him in his lung. I wasn't sure exactly what this meant.



Just like the expiration dates for the drinks, his own had come.

Jasmine, stop! Why him? What are you...

I stopped talking when I saw her pull the knife out from the old man's body. Her gaze was unfocused. It was all over the place. Her eyes were always open and never even blinked anymore. I thought I imagined it, but I definitely saw her irises wiggling slightly. They were vibrating back and forth once in a while.

What happened to you, Jasmine...?

My inertia ended the moment she turned her head away from the old man to look elsewhere. Where...?



Despite all that Jasmine was doing, I couldn't bring myself to hate her. I didn't know what was happening to her. I twas like a demon possessed her. I just needed to destroy that demon. If I destroyed that demon... Jasmine would come back to me. Her eyes- I could tell, they weren't fine. She wasn't fine, and I needed to free her from that demon.



Two, Jasmine was lunging forward. I only had a single moment to act. I could either slam Jasmine to knock her out cold, or pull E out of her trajectory. I was about midway between both. This small hesitation was because... I didn't know if I'd hurt Jasmine doing it.

At the same time, I couldn't stand by idly when E was in danger!



Time to vote! There's no way this can go horribly wrong! :v:

Quackles
Aug 11, 2018

Pixels of Light.


quote:

The impostors! All of them will get it! Every impostor here has got to die! Ha! Haha! Hahaha! Hahahaha! Hahahahaha! Hahahahahaha!

Jasmine seems sus. :v:

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



being focused on E has never ever ever gone wrong for us, so let's keep doing it. Save E

mycelia
Apr 28, 2013

just a big doofus fightin pokemons





"Bernkastel" wine is a reference to Higurashi/Umineko: When They Cry, which both have a character who names herself after it, as it's her favorite wine. Generally if the game makes a point of mentioning something in flavour text, you can assume it's a reference to something.

MagusofStars
Mar 31, 2012




Leraika posted:

being focused on E has never ever ever gone wrong for us, so let's keep doing it. Save E
This makes sense, I guess.

Mecca-Benghazi
Mar 31, 2012



Oh boy fun times. Yeah, let’s save E.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





:v: We just can't escape E, it looks like. We're going to save her specifically, rather than taking Jasmine out.

BGM: Accelerated Scuffle


BGM: Advancing Shadows


I understood then that there was no reasoning with her. But... she didn't stab G earlier, when she shoved the girl aside. Perhaps, then, that G would be safe with her, paradoxically.

I didn't know what to do, so I did the most natural thing: I reached over for E. As soon as my hand wrapped around her wrist, I yanked her out of the way.



She quickly fell against me. I gritted my teeth upon feeling the added weight. A small clicking noise echoed when our collars came into contact. I almost lost my footing, but I remained upright.

At that moment, I figured that she wasn't any threat. She was innocent and I could trust her. My first priority was to help her, to bring her to a safe location. I saw that she also understood the fact I was no threat, and she could trust me. Meanwhile, Jasmine was considering the situation now that I had added myself to the equation. I had to figure something out to destabilize her further.

Quickly, I took the first thing I could reach. It was the bag A gave me. It contained all the pens... Surely they could come in handy now. I unzipped it, and I backed off with E.

Don't come closer!

Perhaps this was ridiculous. Still, I threw the pens, one by one. When I came upon the E pen, I decided to leave it in the bag. Same for the S pen; I couldn't throw those, just in case... but I was almost out of ammo.

:allears:



Right, the bag itself. I plucked the last two pens out, flung those, and then lobbed the bag at her face, which made her hesitate. That was enough! I sprinted out of the room, with E in tow.

Oof!



I just had to hope that was the case, just as I was hoping for the train to arrive quickly. If Jasmine got her bearings back, and barreled down the stairs, there would be nothing stopping her from...

It was quiet, so I exhaled a breath I didn't know I still held. She wasn't coming down. Perhaps G was...

I shook my head. I knew I shouldn't have thought about it. I knew that... I might've left the twin to die, but I had no choice. I clenched my teeth when I realized that choice still perhaps condemned one of them.



BGM: Silence
As soon as we entered, the train departed. We were going towards the north side. I hadn't picked which staircase I'd went down to, because I didn't have the state of mind to think about it. Perhaps I should've thought about it more.

Where are we going? What was that event?

Unfortunately, I had no means to communicate with her, so I had to think of something else. I tapped onto her hand as if to comfort her.

Ah, well. Whatever it was, it wasn't good, huh? But at least we're good now. I don't know if you're writing something... so poke my hand once if yes, and twice if no.



Oh, did you run out of paper?

I poked her hand twice. That was technically true. It was just in the bag.

:v: Of course Simon would be this kind of pedantic, based on his track record thus far.

Hmm... something else must be preventing you from writing. Did... you lose the pens, too?

I poked her hand once. At least I could answer simple questions.



I poked her hand twice. They definitely weren't okay.

Did... did people die?

I hesitated. To which point did I really need to tell her the truth?

No answer, huh? So I guess... they did.



I looked around the station, but there was no one. The doors were open. This was already solved. Just as eagerly, the train closed its doors and ventured off again.

Hmm... I don't know what else to ask, and you can't ask me anything. We can take the rest of the line in silence, then, is that okay?

I answered by poking her hand once, even if I wanted to talk more. It was helping, but... it was just like she said. I didn't know how to communicate with her without those pens. Sure, I needed the paper too, and all of them were gone with the bag.



Since leaving here was definitely one of the worst options, I didn't. Instead, I remained in the train. In silence. With E.

BGM: Ambient Strain


It was, perhaps, the last one of the line. The announcer called it the “theater” station.

:v:

It's not moving anymore. Are we at a new station, then?

My priority was to escort E out of here. I poked her hand once, then we stood up together. The idea was... If we entered a new station, the doors would close behind us. Since we had no time limit, we could wait there with the solution, refrain from entering it for several hours if needed, and then we could head back out in relative safety. And then, perhaps, the issue would be solved.

I doubted it. Yet, this was the most cowardly plan I could come up with, and it was marvelous.



BGM: Abyssal Snarl


Huh? But Marco and Ray were... Did they split up? Did they split up and one went here... No, wait, the doors only close when two collars stepped inside, didn't they? So... it shouldn't be closed if just one person came here. Wait... one person...

I opened my mouth in silent horror at what I'd just thought about. Why did we never try this? Perhaps... I should've checked. I should've tried entering a station alone, and see if it closed up. If it didn't... then maybe... Maybe no puzzle needed to be solved that way. If we traversed them one by one, then the doors would never lock up. Or maybe that was just a trap by Smiley.



I looked at the other side of the station: the door was closed, too. And the space between the stations was, as I mentioned long ago, far too dangerous to cross. That was a last ditch effort, and nothing else.

You've been silent for a while. Is everything fine?

First, I had to comfort E. I lied by poking her hand one time.

Just taking a break then? Come poke my hand when you're good to go.

She smiled. That was a smile that needed protecting. I thought I could do it- it was my task now.

:rolleyes:





Same as before, we've already done an Active Search in the station, so the Map's not important- this being the theater station doesn't change it in any way. I'm going to start on the left and work my way right, saving the door for last.

My steps were blocked after only a few in this encroaching darkness. The reason was simple: there was a big gate. Unless I could cut myself into pieces, I wouldn't make it through there. I could have done that if I had a knife, but I wouldn't be alive anymore, which would be counter-productive to the goal. Even if someone picked up the little cubes that made me “me” to put them back together, I wouldn't be fine on the other side.



Still, the sign itself would be of no use to me.



No secret passages behind this television screen. It was as flat as my mood, or as flat as the Earth, if I believed the Earth was flat, which I didn't... Or it was as flat as a bratty anime girl.

:sigh:

Perhaps it even was as flat as these comparisons.



I tried to find a way to open one of the plates. They were affixed to the wall with large bolts, but surely, there was a way to get them off? I tried with all my might, but there was no way they were opening up. If Ray couldn't have done it, then I sure as hell didn't stand a chance.



The door was closed. I tried peeking through the window. Inside was a bunch of rubble. What was that all about?



I tried and I tried, but I couldn't open it. There was no handle. There was nothing I could do to get it to open up. Even the window in the door was useless; as thick as the door, it didn't break even when I threw my strongest punch. I had to accept it: we were trapped here. I decided against informing E for now. Instead, I waited. Maybe some help would come. That was what I thought.

Against the wall, I slid to the ground and sat, waiting. Waiting. Waiting...

BGM: Silence


BGM: Android Sorrow


Nothing happened.

It felt like an eternity passed us by, as we waited for help that never came.



I backed up, looked at E still serene, waiting for help as well, and I moved forward, confident in my take. I wouldn't get to make that first step in the dangerous abyss between the stations, however.

As soon as I made up my mind... darkness greeted me.



BGM: Silence




  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply