Part 2: MEeting
There were three other people nearby, all of them watching the new arrivals. All of them wearing the same kind of high-tech helmet the first group had. Before Ancora could talk to them, Superbia interjected herself.
Nothing to do about this, it's completely blocked off. I guess we have to meet up with these losers now.
The losers are in hearing range. Well... maybe she doesn't care.
Hey, Ancora. Finally joined us, huh. You know... this place is kind of...familiar.
He remained pensive for a moment, until Superbia decided to leave them and head to the group of losers, as she'd called them.
He offered a shrug at Ancora, before vanishing off to join the group. After a brief moment of hesitation, Ancora joined them to promptly introduce herself, unwilling to fall behind.
There it is. This meeting will pretty much determine how things will go for the next five hours...
Now that Ancora was walking towards them, she could observe the group a little more closely: two boys and one girl, apparently. Though, that third one was more a woman than a girl.
This guy, on the left. He's Ira and fittingly, he has the lion helmet. Fairly built, decidedly someone you don't want to mess with on a physical level. In the middle there is Tristitia. He has the horse helmet, and he's also a little... round. Variety is the spice of life, as they say- not everyone keeps up in shape like Ira does.
The situation had come to a standstill between the two teams of three. All of them looked upon each other as if judging each other's potential threat level. The entire scenario was playing out similarly to a pack of predators sniffing out who would be the first to go, regardless if their given animal was a carnivor, herbivore, or omnivore.
This really can't last any longer. I can't blame anyone here for hesitating this much, because it's hard to tell who can be trusted... if anyone can even be trusted. The thing is, not even I know which one will be most useful... But there's no point in hesitating, then. It's a gamble, and that's all there is to it- so it doesn't matter.
As Ancora contemplated her options, Invidia and Superbia moved forward. Deciding to not fall behind, the girl did much of the same. Within the next moment...
Let's talk to Tristitia, the donkey-helmeted guy, for this first time.
Superbia had already been in the process of introducing herself to Tristitia, when Ancora joined the group.
Superbia, yes. And this is our resident smartiepants, Ancora.
Yeah, sure, we can talk about that later, I guess, like after the universe ends. I don't have any intention of staying here with this bunch of losers any more than necessary- you included in that, sorry not sorry.
Ira snickered a little from the side, yet none of this was flustering Tristitia.
Is that your best effort? I've heard plenty of it over the years. But back to the introductions... That snickering guy is-
Just when you thought we were free from a character being randomly picked on by most of the rest of the cast for literally no fucking reason, in comes Birth ME Code with the weird fat-shaming!!! Cool stuff guys, love it. If memory serves, it fades out pretty quickly, but its still kind of a kind of thing.
You heard the man, go talk to him I guess. There's not really a lot of stuff to say right now... and besides, I've got to think of better nicknames.
For me, how about... Queen? If you could start groveling right now, that would be great, thanks.
Tristitia slapped the back of his hand into the air, as if sending her away. Outraged, Superbia didn't need to be told twice to vacate his area.
Ah... that was my fault, then. I gave the answer, so...
Don't worry over it. Either way, I'm going to gather the others...
The lumbering boy went to fetch the others still talking together. Between Ira and Tristitia, it was a complete contrast. Not just physically but mentally, too.
Probably about time to share information now. But we're still lacking one team...
After everyone introduced themselves to each other, they all took a few moments to sort everything out.
Then there's Avaritia, wearing one that looks like a pig. Yeah, sorry, I don't think that particular mask means anything either, if that makes you feel any better.
It wasn't cleare if Avaritia even acknowledged what Tristitia had said. She remained silent out of concern, annoyance, anger, or simply because she was speechless at the fact he felt the need to add some kind of apology.
Just be ready for others to mind it more. Either way, there's Superbia too: she's the rabbit.
Excuse you, you mean a rabbit queen.
It didn't look like her confidence was radiating strongly enough to make Tristitia back off.
Where was I? Right, there's the lion too, Ira. Then we have Invidia, the wolf... and myself, Tristitia the horse. We're lacking three others.
Who cares? We're safe and it's all that matters. The others can eat shit and die.
Hmph. I wouldn't say safe just yet, and besides, that's not really nice either.
What do you want me to do about it? I know you're a teacher, so you totally have to act like you care, but you don't have to keep that up here. You know what ME said, right? You're as much as suspect as anyone else.
Avaritia took her distance to cool off before some kind of fight broke out. Maybe she simply couldn't stand the rabbit, but Ancora couldn't tell.
Where d-do you get that number, anyway? Three more o-of us?
Yeah, we're supposedly nine total. ME told us that much. Don't you guys ever listen when you're in class?
There's also the matter of the time ticking. We're not too far off hitting the first hour mark. ME said six hours was our limit, right?
I hope t-they hurry, then. Our room wasn't nearly t-this bad.
There was b-barely any of that needed...
As if fate had been waiting for the subject to be brought up, the final door opened, and out of the room bolted two figures.
They left the room in a hurry, and as soon as they were out, Luxuria rolled up into a ball and Gula held the wall next to the closed door as support.
This was... completely absurd! Who could have engineered such deadly contraptions...?
We... we made it out just in time, but... but...!
As she spoke, a small click came from the door to signal the fact it locked again, and in the same moment, everyone's vision turned black.
BGM: ME Mori
Hello again to all of you, dear animals.
At the very least, congratulations are in order. Congratulations, you made it out! At least, I am hoping all nine made it out. As a prize for managing to get out, I'll be generous: the door in front of you will be rendered accessible... or at least, the panel next to it will be.
All of you are backstabbers of the highest order. Criminals, scum, animals; you let instincts drive over reason, you commit crimes like they're nothing.
In particular, you all have one special crime you hold dear to your heart. Don't let anyone find out, or maybe they'll distrust you!
Maybe they'll kill you!
But first, one thing at a time. By unlocking this door, you'll gain access to the Crossroads. That which originally was in the middle of your beloved school is now where you'll coldly murder each other. Don't be late, now! I'll see you later.
We already introduced ourselves to each other, so after you two go, we'll do the introductions back at you.
Avaritia stepped forward, pointing at the two girls who escaped last.
Wait a second! Both our teams had 3 people in them, what about yours?
Um... it's... the third one, she...
Deepest apologies, she is very reserved. If your strengths fail you, I am capable of uttering our companion's ultimate fate in your stead.
No, its fine, I'll tell them... Our room was hard, and she... she guessed wrong...
Interesting, so that's what happened with them. The third girl guessed wrong?
Luxuria pushed her back to a wall and slid down to the ground, holding her legs in a fetal position. An awkward silence lingered on the group, only interrupted by her sniffling a tad. At that moment, Gula cleared her throat.
I am assuming your wanton gazes are fixated on my being at the moment. I am unfortunately acutely aware my physique is unsuitably dressed for societal purposes.
I'm just gonna be blunt- Gula always talks like this, and it's... really annoying! She's the teenager who read too much of the thesaurus and thinks using big words makes her sound mature and sophisticated, but it just comes across as really weird and tryhardy. So get prepared for her dialogue to be, uh, something!
I can assure you this... spotty article was not, in any way, my own doing. Whoever incarcerated us must be finding some sort of wicked enjoyment out of it.
Admittedly, I didn't touch their clothing at all, so that's false.
Also, as it is apparent, I can witness you are all adorned of a helmet much like hers and mine.
Naturally. Who would hold any desire to don their cranium with such an aberration? Not only is its appearance grotesque, but it's also completely unwieldy.
Following that, the introductions began anew. This time, it included the pair who had just come out. Ancora didn't feel like talking to either of them, since her mind was entirely on the puzzle they had to solve... or that she had to solve, really.
It's probably on a few of their minds, too. This puzzle is fairly important to get past, like my avatar said, but... It can wait a little bit.
The blond girl hesitated for a few seconds, but she ultimately decided to not bother with the puzzle for now. Meeting with the two newcomers would allow her to learn important information about them. Having made up her mind...
Anyway, let's get it over with and talk to Gula here.
Gula was hanging out a bit further away from the others. Upon seeing the girl approach her, she faced Ancora, and began talking without hesitation.
Oh, I wasn't going to. I'm Ancora. At least, that's what we figured out.
Ancora? That is strange for a name as well. Upon further thinking, our third party also neglected to properly show an interest in elaborating upon her designation.
So... she didn't introduce herself.
You have a very flowery speech pattern...
I just didn't expect that from your looks.
Gula snickered off a laugh that had nothing fancy to it.
Judging one by their appearance ought to be a fatal mistake in this place.
Superbia happened to hear her, and she approached the duo while holding her hip in a condescending way.
Enough of that vanity. What about your earthly label?
My name? It's Superbia. Perhaps you all aren't aware of it, but it contains superb, which is my default.
Is that why you have to always act like such a bitch?
Superbia flipped the bird without hesitation.
You can't change who you are. I'm not a bitch, I just know I'm better than you lot. If there weren't people like me in this world, you'd all still be wallowing in mud.
The fuck are you even saying?
I think she's saying if you aren't the next one to die, she's going to be very surprised.
We'll see who's dying next soon enough.
The group of three dispersed following those words, leaving Ancora alone to her thoughts.
I can't believe nobody is thinking about the puzzle. This is all well and good, but... it's there, you know? Are they going to keep talking while ignoring the main pressing matter?
I like the name Lux too! Maybe we could make up smaller, cuter nicknames?
Ancora was already no longer listening to them. Instead, she stood in front of the puzzle, having decided to solve that while they were talking about nicknames. There was a sense of urgency nobody else was acknowledging.
Maybe it's just their way of coping with it. They're distracting each other, trying to find the crack in their peer's armor.
Something feels wrong with all of this, too. This door wasn't supposed to be locked in this way. This feels like my friend is testing me... but they don't know about what's happening here. Was I duped? Or is someone else duping me, perhaps?
Is it Superbia? Invidia? Gula? Luxuria? Avaritia? Tristitia? Or maybe Ira? Of course, I already know who Pandora is. It's because I'm Pandora. But what if the traitor died already? Could I be so lucky? Until I find proof, I'll assume it's one of those still alive... and I'll make sure they pay, even if I have to kill six of them.
BGM: Mens Metis
Oh boy, another one of these! The solution to this one is:
The solution is to spell the word 'ME' repeatedly around the border of the puzzle, imprisoning the rest of the letters within.
As the puzzle was solved, a small click was heard from the double doors.
Cora d-decided to go forward on her own, huh?
Sorry, but we don't have a lot of time, so I thought...
I believe the better idea constitutes proper thanks for opening the aperture leading to our destination.
No problem, Gula!
D-don't be ridiculous, nobody would oppose that k-kinda thing...
Vidi works for me, so I'm going with that.
And I'm Trist now, which is shorter and better.
Judging by your shape, it should have just been 'Tit'. Bia for me.
Right back at you, Biatch.
As was second nature to her, Superbia flipped the bird.
No nickname here. Ira's short enough already.
Yeah, short for Iralevant.
Ira's fist closed tighter. Superbia wasn't making any friends so far.
Um... I guess you guys picked Cora for me, then?
Not really... it's fine too.
My nickname will be Ava from now on.
With the doors unlocked, the group could enter the Crossroads.
There were two staircases going higher up into the middle of the Crossroads. From afar, the eight of them could see there was a large, black wall in place there, but not much else. Everything else was normal; benches were scattered around, the structure was normal... Except for the metal plates covering large parts of broken walls and ceilings, as well as the debris laying around, everything was normal.
A loud clank echoed from behind. Superbia fell down onto her ass, screaming some profanities.
Are you okay?
Interesting that he'd be the one to ask, given how Superbia treated him just before. Either way, there can't be any harm checking up on them... maybe?
Looking around, Ancora noticed Luxuria wasn't staring at the happenings, but at her instead. Not too far off, Invidia had his arms crossed, deep in thought. Presented with those options...
And another option already. There's a lot of these in the initial section, and they're all really important, for reasons we'll go over once we've hit the first ending.
Since they're already looking at us, we're going to talk with Luxuria.
The others uneasily stared at the event, unwilling to lend a hand. Ancora was in much of the same boat, and so was Luxuria right next to her.
I guess she'll have to be careful, due to her height.
It's not a problem for us, huh? That makes me think, your helmet is strange...
Ah? In what way?
It's the same helmet that the girl who died had. Is there supposed to be two bear helmets?
Maybe it wasn't a bear. Plus, there are many types of bears.
She thought about it for a few moments. Ancora was also thinking about it; a panda helmet? They were all gray, so there was no way to differentiate them.
Remember that list of names, and how there was Pandora on it too? That was the ninth name...
So you're telling me Pandora is the one who died? Do you think so?
Maybe... I don't know now, but maybe.
By this point, Superbia had recovered and joined them all. Interrupted in their talk, Ancora and Luxuria moved alongside the group again. Once Superbia had rejoined the group, the helmets shut down. By now, everyone was getting used to this: it meant ME was going to talk to them again.