Part 18: MEttle
The bunny's immobile body remained flat on the ground. If only she would simply be beheaded, then a pool of blood would grow underneath her body and that would be it. However, much like in Luxuria's case, a grimmer fate awaited her. Much like in Luxuria's case, the helmet exploded.
She didn't carry anything interesting, and everyone was repulsed by the sight of a dead body, so no one approached her. Instead, everyone gathered at a respectable distance from it in silence.
Well, that's dealt with.
A single thought went through Ancora's head. Before she said anything, someone else did.
BGM: Memini Meminisse
He wasn't speaking to anybody in particular. It seemed as though he was more talking to himself. No longer wishing to see the dead body, everyone split up. It was clear this outcome was coming, yet no one really wanted to talk to celebrate. Except Ira- he didn't leave. Ancora remained close by as the others left their vicinity. She didn't mean to eavesdrop, but it just happened on its own anyway.
If you'd just... stopped trying to do this s-shit, you wouldn't be lying dead on the floor. What did I do e-everything for, now? Now that you're d-dead... all the stuff I helped for...
The boy slowly fell down to his knees, still intently watching the body. Ancora felt more and more awkward. She thought perhaps she should leave them alone.
No. I have to find out who the traitor is.
There was a chance it was Superbia. Ira's words could help. Curiosity took over her feeling of awkwardness, and she remained, making herself smaller by nonchalantly walking to a nearby wall and leaning against it.
He punched against the floor not too far from her body. It was almost like he was sobbing in his helmet. Very quickly, he quieted himself again, clearing his throat.
I can't even blame anyone for k-killing you, too. Would be way too f-fucking easy, huh? But you chose this by doing all this stupid shit... This is all about choice, isn't it? You c-could choose, but I couldn't. I can't choose, I can't ever choose. It's always just y-your choice... it's always just what matters to y-you... what then, what if I had chosen?
Clearly you didn't c-care about my help, huh. Maybe I was just b-blind... I should make my own fuckin' c-choices now. I never wanted a leader, I just wanted you.
Another punch on the ground. It was strong enough to cause the room to shake a little. Ancora could see he was well-built, but this much?
He stood up. Ancora recoiled, trying to hide herself in against the corner. Now that he was back up, what if he decided she was a threat? It was his choice now. A gloom realization set in: he hadn't been doing much, because he was leaving it to Superbia. And now she wasn't here anymore.
Cautiously, Ancora closed the distance again. She was going to tail him a little, see what he'd do. Everyone had already left this area and gone into Wing A, presumably to unlock the door and proceed forward. However, after coming down the stairs, Ancora realized that he knew she was there.
Are you following me...?
He asked the words without turning around. When she didn't answer, he faced her again, looking slightly ticked off. At least, as much as he could look like with that helmet on.
You know, Bia really hated you.
Yeah, I thought that... Hey, you're not stuttering anymore.
But I kept trying to tell her that you aren't that bad, as far as we could see yet. She never cared for it. Said you knew too much, or something daft such as that.
Ancora remained silent, curious as to where this was leading.
But now... I don't know anymore. I'm torn, you know?
It's not safe here. He's not in his right mind. Anyone would lose their way after something like this.
I'm torn because I fuckin' loved her, you know? I'm torn because I don't want her to fuckin' hurt anybody, but she gone and did it. Did it before, did it now- to me- by dying like a bitchass chump. And you know why this happened? It's cuz of you, and everyone else. It's cuz everyone here killed her that I feel that way. So I'm gonna make my own choice.
He kept moving towards her. Unfortunately, he was much bigger than Ancora. The more she stepped backwards, the more she tried to find a way to run around him and rejoin the group. Staying behind had been a bad idea. All she managed to do was trip when she got to the staircase, her ass falling flat onto one of the cement stairs. He closed the distance rather quickly.
And an innocent was spared. Not an innocent of all things, mind you, but in this case, an innocent. Tell him already! Just say the words!
But Ancora's mouth felt like lead. No matter how much she tried to articulate a sound, she couldn't oppose him. He was menacing, and she was powerless. She hated that. Her hate was beginning to form into some modicum of strength, but it was too late already.
Just stay here for a while. Stop fuckin' up the group, you and your hallucinations.
A large punch flew at her, but thankfully, she managed to dodge it in extremis by rolling to the side, the stairs digging into her skin and bones. Leaping off, she ran around him.
The lion doesn't let go this easy. You don't run from them; they'll catch up and get you.
And just like that, a solid punch landed onto Ancora's helmet. The girl fell to the ground like a marionette without its strings. The reverberation caused her to pass out on the spot.
She could tell. The contact was clear. But she couldn't see anything. Even talking yielded no results; she couldn't even hear her own voice. Maybe she didn't have a voice.
Maybe she was still lying in bed. Her mother was shaking her to wake her up. But she didn't want to wake up; school could wait. She said something else, but she still couldn't hear her own voice. Was she mute? Did her ears not function properly? One hand reached for the bed sheets to adjust them on her. She had been in a deep, deep dream, and now she had to wake up?
The hand shaking her became more insistent. The girl was about to turn over to tell her off, as she always did, but after one arm extended to grab the bed sheets, she noticed something was wrong. First of all, she was asleep alone. She never slept alone. There was always someone else next to her. Who? It was hard to remember. There was something else, though; or perhaps, a lack of something else. She couldn't grab the bed sheets.
They didn't exist.
She was in the school. In that accursed school.
A... bhreh... tahh...
Cora, are you okay? What you're saying doesn't make any sense.
Ugh... I can't... get up.
Avaritia helped her back onto her feet, but the girl almost immediately fell down again. Her legs were shaking. The older woman supported her, holding her and helping her to walk over to the staircase close by. Ancora sat down, regaining her consciousness at an absurdly slow rate.
What... happened? What time is it?
She very quickly panicked. The timer had been ticking down even as she was passed out.
BGM: Memini Meminisse
Do you know about... the Tinkerbell Effect?
It's an expression describing... ah, I'll just let her explain it, I guess.
No, I don't.
The Tinkerbell Effect is named after a famous fairy from a movie made for children, taking from the fact everyone believed in her survival, which brought her back to life. I think that's what happened.
Huh? I don't... follow.
But beliefs don't work that way...
Are you sure about that?
I can believe all I want that I'm out of here, but it doesn't make me leave this place...
Probably not, because your state of being here has already been confirmed. However... the opposite exists, too. The Reverse Tinkerbell Effect. The more you believe you'll be fine and that everything will work out, the less they will, because you'll grow too complacent to act. This is the same thing here- we all believed we'd make it out alive, so now, we can't get out alive due to what transpired.
Ancora slowly stood up, only to fall back down onto the stairs.
I want to... get back up... we need to solve the rooms. The timer is ticking... the hour's going away...
It's too late now. Instead, I have something much more important to tell you, so please pay attention.
Ancora couldn't talk back. Her innate curiosity was piqued, and she remained silent to listen.
It's a message from Vidi, which-
Despite that, she didn't react to it, as if she did not hear it or even say it. As Avaritia continued speaking, her head turned to the side. She was looking behind Ancora, towards the top of the stairs.
You! What happened in-
An explosion robbed the teacher of her head, knocking Ancora away and back to the ground. In the dust spreading around her, she could barely see anything of the person who had shot Avaritia. A frosty shiver ran up her spine.
Ancora was shot at that moment. She finally managed to catch a glimpse of her assailant, yet that wasn't enough to guard her against a real, physical bullet boring a hole through her helmet.
It doesn't make any sense that Ira would be the one to shoot. He's dead! Also, what was up with that strange screeching? I couldn't even think while it was going on. Was Ira the one to knock the helmet offline and then snag the gun? That's the only way, which means killing Superbia during the vote triggered him enough to go insane? I don't know... and I'm fading...
Gula directives obtained.