Part 7: MEticulous
Last update, we laid the groundwork for a different outcome to the first Voting Process, let's see how it paid off!
The lead-in is the same; everyone puts cards into all nine terminals, and while receiving another video of ME, the cylinder retracts into the floor to reveal a shotgun pointed at each participant's station. They all attach their helmets to their stations, and Bia proposes they vote Ancora, as she believes Ancora is the mastermind. (And, well, I mean. She is ).
BGM: Mercedis Mellitus
You already said your reasoning, but can you elaborate a bit?
I'm not an idiot, so I noticed your name was weird. It sounds like Pandora, for one, but it's also not a deadly sin. And also, you haven't been exploring with the others earlier. I saw you hanging around by the bathrooms. It's like you don't need to do it, because you know everything already.
Refuting those points quickly is mandatory. There's only so much time before the end, though.
Ancora took a deep breath. There wasn't much time to say everything she wanted to say, and any wrong step could spell her doom.
There was the paper in our room, and we clearly had the answer right to escape the room.
No way! The answer we had to yell wasn't our names- it was the link all of us shared. In other words, My Emptiness.
She's right. We knew these names because we all remembered them, not because we read them on paper.
I suppose it is misguided on Bia's part. However, my suspicions situate themselves on Cora regardless, given the other accusations.
Your name is still wack, and sounds like Pandora anyway. Remove the P, change the D into a C, and there you go: Ancora.
Be that as it may... it... well... perhaps.
Seems like we're making some kind of headway. Avaritia is giving them a little bit too much to think about, but hopefully nobody is going to notice the hint she just gave them all.
See? The name means nothing. Why would I pick the name that would make me look most suspicious? Let's say you're right, and the mastermind made sure that ninth person died to take their name...
Logically speaking, I think you'd pick the name conforming to the model to blend in, but that's if your goal is to not be found out. Then again, I don't know what kind of goal would have you want to be found...
And what is our goal here? Among us, we have to kill the real face of ME. It wouldn't be much of a game if it was so easy we'd find Pandora in the first vote without any kind of clue other than guesswork.
Don't tell me you're all buying this...
Reverse psychology might have a good chance in swaying their opinions.
Look, you've been a huge bitch to everyone, so I don't see why I should follow you more than Cora. It's true the name Ancora doesn't fit with the rest, but...
I am still not entirely convinced, though there is logic to what you are ascertaining.
W-we still need more information...
Until then, we don't have a choice...
Avaritia is remaining silent. I think she's considering what's been said so far. Maybe she's been swayed already, which means only one more needs to be convinced.
Ancora was gathering her thoughts. It was difficult to go over anything that could help her as the anxiety was getting to her. Seeing how she was panicking, others took the spotlight instead.
Huh? Yeah, what about it?
The game has a day-night cycle where normal villagers, which are the majority, try to vote and kill the one they suspect to be the werewolf who, during the night, can turn others into werewolves or outright eat them instead. It kinda feels like we're playing that right now, don't you think?
I guess that's how it feels, but what are you implying by singling me out?
What if that game truly is being played, real time, right now, and the girl in Lux and Ula's room died because you killed her before we woke up, and now we're in the next day cycle?
But I'm not here to kill anybody. In fact, I wasn't even in the classroom with Ula and Lux to begin with!
It doesn't work anyway because...well... the girl was alive when we woke up. She only died later...
This is going nowhere, and that's a stupid theory. Why would this be based on this Werewolf game you're talking about, anyway? My mind's still set on Cora. Are you all just blind?
Yeah... and besides, I have my own proof as to why Cora is suspicious.
Show it, then!
Does that mean there were two Coras? But our Ancora specifically introduced herself as Ancora before we found the list of names, same as Bia and I.
Bia and me.
Now's not the time for grammar, Cora.
Was it the list of three names, or the website page?
Um, what list of three names? We didn't have anything like that. Thinking about it, it must have been the website... Oh, I confused myself, sorry. There's just one Cora, then.
I-I'm voting for whoever you vote for.
There's no purpose going over who's voting for who right now, and our time is quickly dwindling. We need to come up with a conclusion.
You duplicitous lot may suit yourselves with this debate, but I desire to keep the equilibrium between my head and the rest of my body proper. For that purpose, and the additional purpose of your common survival, I propose we vote swiftly and promptly.
I guess there's no avoiding it, then. We still don't really know who to vote for, but...
Wait up. I want to vote, too, but we still have two minutes and I don't want to vote for someone innocent.
No one's innocent here, teach. We're all criminals.
I see... So, we're going into that outcome. Guess it sucks for me, but it will save all of them.
What are you talking about?
Too long to explain, and we're running out of time. We're all voting for someone different and we're stuck in a deadlock, that's all I need to know.
We need to come to a conclusion! I am not dying because the teacher put us all in a fucking deadlock!
Specific instructions? He's lost it. At this point, I'm not even arguing. Just vote for the wolf.
Vote for the wolf, I see.
Sure, I guess...
I also don't understand what he's talking about, but with that kind of sacrifice, there's no way he's the traitor. I don't think it's possible to change their minds, though.
So go ahead, vote for me. I've done some bad stuff too, you know. At least, maybe with this, I'm going to atone for the crime I did, and to you, Bia.
Vote already! Don't you get that lives are on the line, here? Seven people are counting on this to happen!
You think I'm gonna vote just because you said that?! I need to know what you mean by this stuff, too! Like, you can't totally bail on me after saying some stupid thing like that!
Heh, I totally can. Eat shit and vote. And Cora? Remember what I told you earlier, and don't forget it.
About people not being able to trust, or something like that, was it? Why would he bring that up now?
Whatever, then! If you want to die a hero for your precious Cora, I don't care!
So, we vote for Vidi?
That's a complete waste of a vote. Maybe the next one will be more useful.
This time, our vote really doesn't matter. Invidia made sure of that. So I'm gonna vote for Superbia just because
The screens above the voting consoles settled onto Invidia's symbol. It was clear what was to follow: it was his execution. Every shotgun but the victim's released their hold, leaving the participants to witness the macabre outcome.
Time slowed down. Eventually, everything froze.
Did something go wrong? It feels as though... something should have happened.
No one could say anything. Some of them, like Luxuria, had turned away in order to not witness the horrendous outcome for what it was, rather content in watching the consoles instead. Others like Tristitia stared, dumbfounded.
A large pool of red, reminiscent of spilled ink, was spreading from the empty abyss of that missing neck. Ancora watched the remains of perhaps her only real ally, laying limp to the bloodstained surface. The feelings coursing through Ancora were clear and indescribable. There was fear, horror, apprehension, but there was also... relief. It hadn't been her body lying on the ground. Everyone else most likely felt much of the same.
It... it happened, didn't it?
Yes. Vidi's dead.
He's not just dead! That's not death, that's desecration! That's like being... fucking dead!
For a moment, it looked like Avaritia was going to say something, as her body language clearly indicated hesitation, but she merely walked off with her shoulders slumped. The silence settling on the group lasted for a while. The dust slowly dispersed, as everyone in the group took the outcome in stride. The dead body was a reminder that this fate could be one they all shared.
Let's hope it doesn't come to that. The goal is for only the traitor to die. Or the least amount of them, since that's not possible now.
BGM: Memini Meminisse
You know... the worst thing about death is... That dead body, it's not a person anymore. It used to be a person, and now... it's just an object. It's just a thing. You could shake it, but Vidi's not gonna answer. He was alive right before this, though. He was talking, and arguing with us.
It's just a lack of the ability to process information and answer accordingly. It's not really different than a machine. Except we can process it differently, because we can choose to not act accordingly.
Ancora paid little attention, looking around for the others. Ira and Superbia had been strangely quiet; it's because they'd both left already. Avaritia was still gone, and Luxuria wasn't near them.
After all, it is presumptuous to assume we have this free will when the choice, as you inferred, is made based on available information.
Tristitia finally stared back at Gula, shrugging.
Maybe, maybe not. I don't think anyone can tell. If I had to guess, though... you're probably correct.
Again, Tristitia shrugged.
Of course, with sufficient force, I guess you could make it go off the rails. When that happens, though, it's not a good outcome. You'll crash and kill dozens, if not hundreds. And as you can see before us, the consequence is real.
He pushed against Invidia's side with his foot. Gula grimly retained her silence. The only sound interrupting the moment came from Luxuria, whose tears were running wild.
Is that sobbing from fear? Disgust? Legitimate sorrow?
Either way... it doesn't look like we got the mastermind...
The others looked at her; it was a real worry. With the timer ticking down again, they had a job to fulfill.
Truth be told, the game will really only end the moment I find out the traitor. Anything to manipulate them into thinking they won.
I don't think anybody would hope for that.
Can we stop... talking about death?
The little girl spoke aloud amidst her tears, supporting herself against one of the consoles. Gula and Tristitia split from the others, deciding to take their conversation elsewhere. Ancora remained with Luxuria.
Um... we can go elsewhere too, if you want...
The other's from when that girl got the wrong guess, most likely.
As Ancora noticed when she wandered closer, Luxuria was extremely destabilized by the event, to the point where she was not only hugging herself in fear, but also on the verge of mental collapse.
Want to help me put in the cards into the slots in the middle? We have to do it at some point, so we may as well fill nine cards in.
The angle of her helmet showed she gave a glance towards the headless corpse, before she set off to work alongside Ancora. The two of them began collecting the deactivated cards from the consoles, careful not to wander in front of the shotguns. It would be too stupid if one of them fired by mistake.
It's obvious they can't fire unless a vote is cast, and that they don't shoot real bullets. This precaution is just for Luxuria's state, for sure.
Ancora asked the question, though she didn't expect any real answer out of the girl. To her surprise, she nodded while they were putting in the cards into the contraption.
Yeah... a little now. I don't know what's going on... but I don't want to be weak like this either... it's just... the body...
What about the body?
Ancora's vision faded right afterwards.
BGM: ME Mori
Greetings once more. I'm sure you'd rather not see ME again, not after the vote and your forced witness of a dead body. I would like to remind you that there will be 5 more in total today other than this one, so you should strap yourselves in.
The carnage isn't over yet. Far from it.
Fortunately for you, now you have an hour of respite. Please use your time well. We will be heading towards more of those education rooms now. If you'd remember the room you woke up in, they're a little like that. All the ME-cards are hidden further inside.
Hopefully you didn't kill off your best puzzle solver yet, or else you would regret it now.
The timer inside of Ancora's helmet read exactly four hours remaining.
Once you've made your way inside, you will have to split up into three groups. You may be one, two, or three in a group. The very moment four people enter the same classroom, they will surrender their right to live.
Don't you feel smarter by learning various subjects? Another smart thing to do: not opening the doors until you are ready to go in, otherwise it will lock you out for 39 minutes. Please remember that once you enter a room, you will also only have 39 minutes before you surrender your right to live! Time is of the essence, and I will stop taking it from you for now.
I'll see you later.
Then the image faded once more, and Ancora's vision was replaced with the real world. She looked at Luxuria, who looked back at her. The bear-themed girl decided to keep Luxuria company instead of helping the others solve the aforementioned puzzle.
They can probably take care of this one on their own, anyway.
I kind of want to look at this machine a bit more.
We only have so much time before the next voting round... if we're going to do that, we'll be leaving the teams to separate in strange groups.
What do you mean?
We're seven left now, so that means if we both stay here to look at the machine and try to figure out how it works, we're leaving them to split as teams of two, two, and one...
I... I guess. But in that case, I should go tell the group.
For a moment, Luxuria hesitated. Ancora could tell it was because this would leave her alone, and there was already a feeling of kinship developing between the two of them.
Already clinging onto another, huh...
Okay, but come back quickly, Cora...
After promising it to Luxuria, Ancora walked off to join the main group in order to tell their plan.