Part 13: MEndacity
content warning: misogyny, body-shaming, mild sexual harrassment
Tempting as it is to keep exploring the side of the flowchart we unlocked with voting Ira off, instead (with a new file, of course) we're going to open up the other side. As such, that means we have to get someone else voted for, so our starting decisions are going to be different. Starting from the beginning of the flowchart:
Ancora wakes up in the classroom (after activating her own helmet) and, after speaking to the others, she introduces herself to Superbia. After solving the classroom and leaving, they meet three other participants- Ira, Tristitia, and Avaritia. The three move forward to introduce themselves, and Ancora decides to approach Avaritia first. After introductions are made, the six group up again and discuss their predicament, as well as wondering on the status of the last three participants- just for Gula and Luxuria to exit, alone. After another video message from ME, the two explain the third person with them died before they could get her name. The group begins introductions once more, and while Ancora thinks they should handle the puzzle first, she ultimately ends up talking to Luxuria. Afterwards, she solves the puzzle attached to the hallway exit, which allows the group to enter the Crossroads. In the process, Superbia hits her head and falls over, leading the group to pause once more until she is recovered. While they wait, Ancora decides to speak to Luxuria some more. After their conversation, ME returns with another message explaining that the group will need nine keycards to be able to initiate the first round of voting- and that if they don't, they all will die once the hour is up. The group splits up to look for a few remaining keycards, giving Ancora the chance to find a quiet corner and hack into someone's helmet. She can only hack helmets whose frequencies match her own (as they change frequencies semi-regularly), but there are three frequencies she can connect to at this time...
At the moment, matching frequencies include... Ira, Avaritia, and Luxuria's helmets. For now, I'll be hacking...
Previously to now, the option to hack Luxuria has been blocked off on the flowchart, and the reason for that is that even with the right frequencies, sometimes she can't actually solve the puzzle and make the connection. The reason for this is because we have to obtain directives in order for her to be able to attempt the hack...
BGM: Mens Metis
As you can see here, the Luxuria directives- alphabet and water- are the actual literal directives for the hack puzzle. Can't solve a puzzle you don't know the instructions to! In this case, the solution is...
You would think that the order it's in already works as a solution (letters in alphabetical followed by H20), but that's actually incorrect. The real answer is to literally spell out 'A 2 Z' (A to Z) and then from there put the rest of the letters in alphabetical order again (H to O, aka H20). This one's mean
Gula and Luxuria were together, as expected. The cow-themed girl was deep in the subject of the school's ruined appearance.
If bombs went off in three wings out of four, why was the fourth one not destroyed?
Perhaps the explosives were defective. I honestly cannot presume to even imagine.
The two of them quieted a little as they approached the hallway they'd been in first. Passing by Ira and Superbia, they made it seem like they didn't want the two others to hear what they were talking about. Once they were in Wing A proper, Luxuria changed the subject.
I beg you not to endeavor in revealing our actions to everyone. Refrain from speaking of that sordid outcome!
Don't worry, Ula. Nobody can hear us here; we're way too far from the rest of them.
In that case... perhaps she has tricked us?
No, that's impossible. The girl with us definitely died, beheaded like that.
Perhaps your tour-de-force has shrunken the opposition down by a ninth, yet we should not squander the advantage we hold upon that personage.
Changing the subject once again, Luxuria adressed Gula while pointing at the door.
I want to get in there. You should do something about it.
Do you truly believe I could remove this obstacle simply by wishing for its disappearance?
Just... use your giant chest to break through the door.
ughhhhhhhh this entire conversation sucks and honestly I won't blame you if you scroll past it, if it wasn't the bulk of this hack I would've honestly cut it
Gula held an arm across her chest as if to block its view; an action that was bound for failure simply based on its size.
Your fixation with my bust is becoming quite a nuisance, Lux- never mind the fact you're definitely the real culprit behind the darkened areas of this article of clothing!
Can you blame me for wanting to have a little fun? Besides, I didn't see you complaining before now...
What this means is that Luxuria drew the cow print on while she was still asleep, probably with a sharpie or something. Also, I haven't mentioned it before now, but Luxuria is around the same age as the rest of the students, just, you know. Smaller.
Gula hesitated a little before holding her hips contemplatively.
If it means anything, I'm super thankful for that. Still, we should focus on the main thing at hand...
Is that main thing just how cute you are? I still cannot get over how cute you are. Is it on purpose? Cute things such as you are dangerous, so I should really not let you play me like a fiddle, but I can't help it...
So cute that you're forgetting your usual vocabulary.
Ah! That is... correct. Apologies for that; I shall endeavor in not exposing myself so readily.
That'll be hard with the clothes you have, I think.
Gula was definitely embarrassed at those words, both of her arms uneasily crossing under her chest. The girl even averted her gaze for a short moment.
These clothes... I am fully aware they are not very flattering.
You won't see me complaining, Ula. Besides, I like girls like you. I like them a lot, do you understand what I'm saying?
The cow-themed girl's embarrassment grew tenfold at that, and a long pause followed the admission. Luxuria noticed, eventually clearing her throat.
No, n-no it's okay! It's perfectly fine, though, I um... I don't really... swing that way...
Did you ever try? Someone like me, I mean.
Ahaha, umm, not... really?
Life is full of possibilities, Ula. If you haven't tried, can you truly say you don't like that? Besides, I'm cute, right? It should be fine, then.
What am I even watching?
Perhaps... You truly are dangerous, aren't you? But I believe we have more important things to focus on, such as the unearthing of an escape route.
Let's talk about it again later, then. Pinky swear?
P-pinky swear, I think.
The duo resumed their search by entering a nearby unlocked classroom. Looking around the place, the two of them turned everything over. They did find a ME-card hidden inside the teacher's desk.
How strange... but maybe I should leave it here.
I'm thinking we could use it to our advantage. This is an additional ME-card for us later, and if not... then at least it's a way to keep everyone in here, since we won't get thirty-nine cards without this one.
To keep everyone incarcerated I could understand the thought, but for which purpose?
...It feels like it would be more fun if we make full use of these six hours, no?
I find myself somewhat reticent. Your inactions never cease to bring me the utmost worry, Lux. Both for the others, and my own self...
And are you sure you don't want to date me still? I can guarantee you just one date will let you know all about what it's like with people like me, too!
Worry not, Lux. I... suppose I can ponder on that embarrassing subject, just for you. I remain unconvinced for now however, so please, pardon my self-imposed exclusion.
Luxuria is proving to be a proverbial thorn in my side. Perhaps it's a good idea to try and steer the group towards voting her out. She's clearly winning Gula over already. They are too close, and she's the boss. And just like Gula keeps repeating, Luxuria is looking extremely dangerous right now. She's the reason why the ninth one died, huh?
Thank god for that.
From here, Ancora regroups along with the others and they examine the strange cylinder in the Crossroads where the voting is to be held. The group insert keycards into the nine slots, and the cylinder retracts into the ground while another video message plays from ME. The eight all attach their helmets to their respective terminals to begin the voting process. Superbia immediately goes on the offensive by stating she believes Ancora to be the mastermind. Ancora responds in turn by stating that, from a logical perspective, if she was the mastermind she wouldn't pick the name that immediately sets her apart from the group- it'd be too risky. Some of the others are swayed by this, but not everyone, which means Ancora must go on the offensive even further...
BGM: Mercedis Mellitus
What are you talking about?
In detective novels, when you get to the end, the culprit is always someone you don't suspect. If you think about it that way, this means someone in our group is much more suspicious than they originally appeared. And I know three things that make that person super suspicious.
Which would be...? Out with it, already! Time's a-ticking!
The entire group was willing to give Ancora's theory a listen, since no one interrupted her other than Superbia.
Well, umm... I don't know how to explain this... but someone in our group has already committed murder.
To be more specific, I mean like, not long ago. Earlier, in fact. Do you remember how Lux and Ula left their room without a third party?
Are you perchance accusing us of having committed the villainous crime of murder?
Superbia answered promptly, interrupting Gula.
I always thought that was super suspicious.
She is quick to agree. That's a little strange, and merits investigation, but that's for later. There's a bigger fish to fry right now.
The puzzle wasn't even that hard to put together, either. The answer was clearly My Emptiness, so why did they get it wrong and die? Is it because someone hid parts of the answer?
I don't know about that, but... I think, at best, someone caused that death to see if things were dangerous for real. Like a guinea pig. Anyway, there are two other things.
Gula quieted again. She was possibly weighing her options in opposing that thought. Luxuria said nothing the whole time, not being one for confrontation.
The second thing is that Lux and Ula are quite close together. So close that I think they're forming a team, and that's dangerous, isn't it? For the votes. It means they have power.
No, we're not! We only explored the school together earlier, and... Even if I'd do that, I wouldn't do anything bad, I swear!
Superbia cleared her throat and spoke. She was still jumping at any opportunity to pin votes on anyone other than her. It was slightly grating to Ancora, since she wanted to finish putting forth her arguments.
We can't be sure of that. Reminder, we're all in My Emptiness, here. You're the calmest, coolest, most innocent butterfly of the group. Like hell! Cuteness is a weapon too!
We can't say how it'll go, that's correct. Sorry Lux, but we have to think about that too.
Unlike the rest of the ones talking to her, Luxuria adopted a stance based on emotions.
Sometimes you can't deduce everything with logic. It doesn't make a lick of sense! Like just how you're making these wild guesses about Ula and me, too. You can't know any of the things Cora says, can you?
While that's true, aren't you confirming them now?
Luxuria took a small pause to mull over that. Ancora was right; she was falling for the bait.
So what, then? What does it matter if I confirm it? Maybe I like Ula. I'm sure you people like others too, and that doesn't make you into a murderer.
Superbia remained silent, not wishing to get in the way of the little debate. Everyone had forgotten they were on a tight leash, time-wise.
Gula tried to quiet Luxuria, almost visibly embarrassed, but she wanted to hear none of it.
And besides, why am I under such scrutiny right now? You still haven't answered that, huh! I'm small, is that why? You're picking on me because I'm small?
No, it's because you've been meddling with this thing we're a part of! For all we know, you two murdered the ninth in cold blood, but I'm suspecting you way more than Ula.
What's it to you, big tits?
Insults threw at Ancora, all of which quickly grew into a tantrum.
You blond normie girl with big tits, what do you want, picking on me like that? You really wanna pin this on me that bad, huh?
You found a ME-card, didn't you?
Yes, I used it!
A chilly pause so glacial it could have rivaled the North Pole settled after Ancora said those words. It took a few moments for her to understand that she said something she definitely couldn't have known.
Oh, no. I shouldn't have been thinking that much about what I've seen when I hacked into Luxuria's helmet. Now it's too late, since the topic's already brought up... Guess I'll just have to think something up.
As they all hesitated, Gula silently pushed a button on her console, as if to vote early. It wasn't clear for whom, yet. Luxuria eventually broke the awkward pause, but the time it took her to refute it was already telling its own story.
I never said that!
Renounce to it, Lux. She's clearly aware of the events that transpired. I know not how nor why, but even you should admit defeat where due.
BGM: Mercedis Mellitus
The small girl smashed her hand against the console, the sheer strength behind it causing a worrying cracking noise.
Maybe it's best to sit back and watch how things go, now.
You were using your cuteness to manipulate us, and I don't like that.
But only if all of that was true.
I can't see why Cora would lie.
Because her stupid big chest is under fire. That's why she needs to lie!
I'll a-agree with whatever Bia is proposing. G-guys, we have twenty seconds l-left!
Sorry, but all we have is stuff against you. And if she lies about it, we'll deal with her too, just like we're dealing with your little bitch ass.
The horse and the lion entered their vote, followed by the rabbit after a brief pause with her hand on the buttons. With this many stacked against her, Luxuria lost her mind.
This isn't what it was supposed to be! You're making a big mistake!
Invidia put his vote in. And just like that, everyone had voted, except for Ancora and Luxuria, the latter still screaming bloody murder.
This isn't fair! I'll... I'll get you for that! I'll take you all on, I'll break you, and I'll make you take your last breath! You're all going to die, even if I die! I'll come back and-
Would you please shut up? You're digging your own grave even deeper. Cora, vote and let it be done.
And you! You, Cora! Not even hell has a place for what I'll do to you!
Deciding to ignore those words, Ancora voted.
Just like with Ira's vote, it's, uh, irrelevant who we vote for here. But I still voted for Luxuria.
The screens above the voting consoles settled onto Luxuria's symbol. It was clear what was to follow: it was her execution. Every shotgun but the victim's released their hold, leaving the participants to witness the macabre outcome.
Time slowed down. Eventually, everything froze.
Lock #4 obtained.