Part 25: MEntal
It was very spacious, and it had two large cylinders spanning floor to ceiling. They were both adorned of a lot of mechanisms and cogs, as well as a long wire connecting to them. Smaller cylinders guarded the entire room alongside them. Due to the strange nature of the room, the two people in it barely had any time to take in its weird appearance before ME appeared to them again. At exactly 39 seconds, on the dot, both their visions were taken by her, while the door locked itself.
BGM: ME Mori
The question you will have to answer in this room, however, is for you and you alone. If you give the answer to anyone outside of this room, you will immediately surrender your right to live. Do you understand? This knowledge is for your group, and no one else.
There is a true enemy which opposes me, you, and everyone else. All of you here have been gathered for a specific reason.
No, it's not to kill that enemy, which you won't be able to do, ever.
Figuring out that true enemy is part of the deal, too, even if you will never be able to fight it. Not now, or ever. That is because while it is your true enemy, it is not one you are meant to oppose. Even though we must oppose it, otherwise our end spells doom for the entire world.
I'll see you later.
The entire speech was as short as the previous one. The two in the room decided to ignore the cryptic words as they had to hurry, with Tristitia taking the lead despite his apparent uneasiness.
Let's go, then. This looks like some kind of reactor.
How can you tell?
Just a hunch. It's probably a fake, anyway. What is there to power in here?
Dunno... but I wonder a lot more about what ME meant by true enemy...
I don't remember setting this up. The true enemy is the traitor, no?
Only one companion this time! We can still ask if he has any thoughts on the reactor, though, so let's get that taken care of.
Did you find anything of note?
I know you already said this was probably a fake reactor, but let's say it's not... what do you think it's used for? And why have this here? We're still in the school, right? Like what is all this?
If I knew, I'd tell you. All I can think of is...
We have classrooms, we have hallways, even the bathrooms look the same... but these rooms are not always as we'd expect them to be.
Who could do such a thing? It's not like anyone can just walk in and build this...
Maybe it's the government. If it's not, then they have to be really rich, or really determined. It has to be some kind of organization, but what even would warrant putting this much effort in making all this...? Killing us off one by one? I don't believe in madman who just likes to watch people die, everyone has a reason for doing what they're doing. But this...
He paused, uncertain of how he wanted to word it. Perhaps he was even uncertain if he wanted to continue down that line of thought, too.
What could warrant all this...?
At first, it was only to find out the traitor, but now... this room is definitely nothing I know. Something else is going on, and I'm also wondering about what could warrant all this. Did the traitor turn usurper? All the more a reason to find them. At this point, maybe it's preferable if they all died to make sure I've got the right one...
Since we're only two, let's not waste too much time.
Alright, that's fair for now.
Back to work.
And now it's time to investigate. There's not a ton to do in this starting room, but let's start with the cable hanging down from the ceiling and go from there.
Tristitia didn't bite, no matter how much Ancora willed him to.
No one wants to talk about ladders, let's just stop that entirely and focus. There's no helping it when the situation becomes this dire.
Ancora still had to find some more information. A keypad on the ceiling took four digits, and some numbers were left undiscovered yet.
How about the familiar looking vats on the wall?
These tubes look really high tech. This makes me wonder if we're still in the present... because it's sure starting to look like we're hundreds of years in the future right now!
He shoved his hand against the side of one of the tubes. The mechanism pushed up, sinking against the wall some.
See? It's really not heavy.
Sure looks like it from here...
Ancora tried to do much of the same with another one, but that one wasn't having any of it. The annoyance she felt due to her failure in lifting this fake object made Tristitia laugh.
Hey, don't be mean like that!
Sorry, sorry. Didn't mean it that way. I guess you're still a girl, huh?
What does that even mean...?
I guess I just have more muscle mass, that's all.
Hey, hey, who's the mean one now?
Anyway, let's take a look at the giant pillar in the center of the room, I guess.
This is a big thing with a lot to see on it. What should I investigate?
Well, no point in not looking at everything! Starting at the top:
The indication says status: stable, as if it could go haywire if you mishandled it or something.
We'd have cause for concern if it was real, but, as we already established, it's not.
It's good to decieve yourself like that, Tristitia, but don't hide from the truth. This reactor looks like a fake, but so far it's pretty real. Still, makes me wonder how this came to be.
Or the number of minutes we have to explore these rooms.
Or the numbers 30 and 9 put together.
Or the letters C and I together, if you take them as being 3 and 9 mashed together.
Or... is there anything else it could represent?
Well, in Japanese, the numbers 3 and 9 are san and kyu, which sort of sounds like thank you when put together like that.
That one's the most ridiculous of the bunch.
There's this panel with a bunch of gears inside, but it's missing one. Nothing's spinning.
Let's find it and come back, then.
This is some circular opening. Maybe a tube goes in here or something. Or it's an output?
Let's be on the lookout for a tube, then.
This looks broken. No, it doesn't just look broken; I'm pretty sure it's broken. Something's missing inside, and I can't screw the panel back onto it.
Let's come back after we find whatever it is that's missing, and something to screw the panel back on. I don't think whatever it does will work unless it's fixed.
Not to mention the console on the ceiling needs to be properly operated first, too.
And that's all we can look at right now. Next, the green tube.
The side of the cylinder has an output.
Guess we need to find something to suck all of that acid out. I wonder how that part inside isn't melting right out.
It's probably just... not acid for real. More evidence towards the fact this is all a fake contraption.
Lastly, the stacks of boxes on the left.
Lots of boxes that make me think of tic-tac-toe. I don't think we're supposed to use them for that, though.
There's stuff inside. Various objects. A lot of trash, too. Yeah, these are ripped squares of cloth... duct tape... a copy of Avril Lavigne's newest album...
Which one is that?
Uhh, Let Go, yeah.
Oh, I already have that one...
Hey! I like it!
None of my business, anyway. There's a lot of stuff in here... One thing stands out. In one of the boxes is a metal gear.
A metal gear?!
Seems like the kind of thing we'd need in a room like this. Let's carry it. There's also a key in the same box... Good thing I took this gear, or I would've never seen it.
He removed the key, showing it to Ancora.
That's the key to access the second room. There's nothing else here it would unlock.
Tristitia put it in their inventory until its use would come up.
Well, that use is right now, because we're moving into the second room.
And now, we can move further in.
Well, that's a bit anticlimactic. I guess we should start with the strange item on the ground.
Look, it's a big tube. We can take it between the rooms as needed.
Think you can carry it? I feel like we should just leave it there until we find a purpose for it. It's a little cumbersome.
Alright, then. Now we know its here, at least.
The other set of familiar vats?
Two reactors? Maybe one's a fake, and the other's real?
Or maybe they're both fakes. I still don't think this is a real reactor. I've seen this place before, you know, and it's not here.
Where did you see it?
Somewhere my father worked at. They had this large red cross-like emblem affixed above the door, and there were a bunch of gruff guys doing experiments. He took me there once on their yearly bring-your-kid-to-work day. He doesn't work there anymore, though. He'd been working there for a long time before that, and I still don't know why he left. The pay was apparently really, really good.
Difference of interests? Maybe a clash of morals? Science can sometimes be a little... you know.
Maybe. Not that I'll know even if I asked him now.
Ancora had a bad feeling about it. She decided to change the subject, figuring that he was dead, or something like that.
Anybody who quits from something as shady as that probably ends up dead.
Yeah. I'd only seen it through a window, but I remember it mesmerized me. It marked me, and I would know what this is even after another twenty years without seeing it. These things were in constant movement, though. Now they're not moving. The reactor is a lot less monstrous than my memories, but it's because it's a fake and, thus, not active.
He gave a light shove onto one of the strange, metallic structures. Something broke from it and rolled away onto the ground.
See? It's falling apart on its own.
Wait, that's not part of the mechanism.
Ancora reached for it, finding that it was a coin.
Maybe this is useful. Let's keep it with us. Who knows if we'll need it here? And if we don't, then we're just a little richer...
And risk losing your head? I wouldn't take anything out of these rooms unless they're from the safes that contain our ME-cards.
Yeah, that's probably a better idea. Turns out there's no tricking him into doing it and eliminating him that way, huh?
The green tube in this room has nothing of note to look at or interact with... it's just a tube. As for the reactor...
Yeah, it's a little too complex for me to mess with anyway. I think it's in our best interests if we left it alone.
...they refuse to even examine it! Great work guys. We'll be out of here in no time. Guess that leaves the boxes.
I have to wonder why there are these boxes strewn about. They don't contain much of anything in general, just random knick-knacks.
He addressed Ancora as she approached the boxes. Some of them were open, others were still shut tight. From what she could see of each, he wasn't wrong; they didn't contain anything spectacular.
You'd think these things would be used to carry dangerous stuff.
Like what? Like a gun?
Maybe, if you wanna believe that.
No, I don't wanna. Speaking of, what are you going to do with... yours?
Tristitia still had the gun in his pocket. Ancora could see the handle sticking out the whole time.
Well... okay then. But that reminded me, about the word emergency...
What about it? It makes me think of emergence, even though both of them have nothing to do with each other. Specifically, emergence is when two things interacting together have something neither have alone.
Uh... you lost me a little. I just wanted to talk about the emergency exits. What do you mean?
Ancora was starting to wonder if all of this was truly needed, but at this point she just had to pursue the topic. Otherwise, she could be seen as impolite or testing his patience. And it's not like she wanted to test a guy who held a gun.
I don't think he'd shoot over it... It's safer this way, I guess.
Take a person and a bicycle. The person can run, but there's no smooth forward movement. Meanwhile, the bicycle can provide that movement, but it can't do it on its own. Hence, the emergence happens when both combine and fulfill that. There are other examples out there, but this is the simplest one to digest I think. It's a little like how a pencil can write, but only if your body, which can't write without a tool, makes use of it.
Or when wind creates waves onto the surface of water...
So a little like these helmets, since they display what's outside of them?
No, not like the helmets. We can see without the helmets.
You're right. Well, that was interesting, but we have to get moving I think.
Sure, and, by the way, I found a clipboard between two of these boxes.
He quickly checked what was written on it.
Something about... experiments? Something about pairs. The number 2 is all over this thing. Two reactors... And it says to multiply all three numbers together. What could that mean?
Maybe it's for some code or another?
They kept it with them for convenience's sake.
And that is, uh, literally it! Really not a ton of inventory stuff to deal with this time around. With this, we're heading back into the previous reactor room. There's an immediate thing we know to do just from comparing the two rooms- use the tube from the second room in the strange circular slot on the reactor.
After connectng the both of them together, the transparent cylinder drained itself of its acid. All of it was sucked out through the tube into the reactor's shell. The only thing left in the tube after another minute of wait was a weird part.
Think it's safe to get it?
Just let it leak out for a few, and come back to it later.
It's probably fine to take now.
Having waited a few, the two of them disconnected the tube and the strange piece of hardware came out, seemingly undamaged from the acid it was drowning inside prior.
Probably not. Couldn't take any chances, anyway.
After the two of them reconnected the tube with the cylinder, the acid was pumped back into it in order to revert it to its previous state. Then, they pocketed the item and discarded the tube back to the other room, no longer having any use for it.
That's not the only thing here we can interact with; we found that gear that still needs a place to go.
Looks like the gear we found goes in here. Let's put it in.
Careful, there's a grid over it. We have to open it first...
But Ancora just jammed her hand into it, yanking it out afterwards. The grid hadn't been electrocuted or anything, and it very easily came off, at the expense of Ancora's hand which was now bleeding a little.
He shook his head, sliding the gear inside and attaching it to the pole. Soon, the gears began spinning together. What they did wasn't clear.
Got anything for this cut?
One of the boxes in the back has some. You're in luck. Too much luck.
The two of them left the reactor alone to go patch up Ancora's hand.
You really ought to be more careful. We're dealing with potentially dangerous hardware here. Not that it's really a reactor, since I believe it's a fake... But a fake can still hurt.
Hey, I'll be fine. It's just a tiny cut...
Out of anyone, I feel like Tristitia has the least amount of rights to speak about being cautious.
He held it up to her. Ancora read it aloud.
But we're missing 15 of them. Fifteen of what? What's missing?
I'm not sure. I think this number may be important though.
With that taken care of, we should re-examine the ceiling panels, as we still haven't found a use for them...
Too bad we don't have a ladder. Maybe we have to climb using the cable...
With only a slight look at Tristitia, one could deduce he wouldn't be any use climbing a cable this small. It might even cause it to snap, and render it unusable.
I can try, but I'm not a good climber.
Good one. But stop being distracted, please.
If there's a joke here, it went over my head.
Upon trying, Ancora found it a lot easier than she might've assumed. All she had to do was use both her hands and legs to hold onto the cable, and before long, she had managed to bring herself to the top.
What does the box do?
It's... settings. Um, I don't know what we should put them on! It's taking four numbers from 0 to 9, but I don't know the combination.
Just put them on whatever you want, I guess. I doubt this will do anything until the cable is plugged somewhere anyway.
The solution has to do with the numbers we found, no doubt.
Look, there's no point in even spoilering this, it's literally just basic multiplication. You multiply 2 (from the clipboard), 15 (from the note), and 39 (from the reactor) together to get the solution. No puzzle here.
There you go. The answer is 1170, since they multiply together.
After putting in the four numbers, Ancora came down from the box, sliding along the cable until she was back to the ground. The machine was now giving a low hum.
Hey... wait a second- you weren't looking, were you?
Looking at what?
Oh, no, I don't have any interest in that.
Not sure if he meant it that way, or if it's a veiled insult.
ANYWAY, now we can examine the other panel on the reactor, which is where the part we found in the acid can be inserted.
And the part goes here...
A small light lit up, as if confirming it was done correctly.
Wow, that was pretty good. I'm impressed.
Don't be. I just know a lot about computers, because I spend a lot of time on one. You do remember I have that website, right? It's just one of many I own. I'd like to actually get up and do stuff, though. That's why a guy named Marco started giving me tutoring on engineering. He came by my home often, so I would get off my chair and do some menial work.
You... want to exercise, then?
Yeah. I'm kind of tired of being the fat boy. No matter what I try, though, I don't get slimmer.
The shaking of his head was full of sorrow and denial.
He connected the cable to the panel.
I knew they'd go together. It looked too suspicious. There's still a lot of slack, though, and I can't make heads or tails of why... maybe it's not important. But it's... really... stuck... hard...!
He'd tried taking it out to show, but the panel wasn't having any of it. It was very well stuck there, and since that was where it had to go...
What do you think that means?
I don't know... Looks like a small compartment opened on this side, too.
He reached inside, taking out a ME-card and a weird key with the letter T attached to it.
Here, take that key.
He lobbed it at her. Ancora did her best to catch it, but it fell to the ground. She went over to take it, adding it to the rest of her stuff.
Beats me. Does it mean we're done here? But what's our answer? Don't we normally get some piece of paper to help us?
I think it's pretty obvious. I'll let you think about it, then just come with me to the door.
I think you just don't know the answer.
Not him, apparently.
Nothin else to check out, so let's get out of here
Here we are, then, ready to leave. And not that much time passed, either. Definitely good.
And about the answer...
Do you still not know it?
No, I know it.
No, I know it.
Ancora looked at her hands in slight contemplation. After a minute or so, Tristitia nudged her with an elbow.
Something like that. You know how we die if we get it wrong...
Well, the answer is t-
No, stop, it's fine! I know the answer!
A girl's got her own pride to uphold.
Let ME out! Our true enemy is...
It should be obvious what the answer is here, but I'll spoiler it anyway just for the sake of consistency.
With a click, the lock came undone. Now they could leave this room. Ancora looked at Tristitia who returned the gaze, but soon he left with the bowls and the ME-card, having nothing else to do here. He was, also, quite eager to leave this place. Ancora also had enough of this reactor, so she stepped out, clutching the key she'd found in here. That was now not just one, but two keys obtained.
Key with the letter A and key with the letter T acquired. It's not looking good for ME-cards, though. Oh well, it'll be time to worry over that later.