Part 27: MEchitza
With what is easily the roughest part of the game finally past us, it's time for us to start a new path once more; we got a new set of directives, so no point in holding off on using them. Starting from the beginning of the flowchart:
Ancora 'wakes up' in the classroom, and after introducing herself, decides to keep talking to Invidia. After they solve the puzzle and leave the classroom, they run into Ira, Avaritia, and Tristitia, and Ancora meets Tristitia first. Luxuria and Gula exit their room without the ninth person. ME explains some more of the rules, and after she's done, Ancora talks to Luxuria first. The group make their way into what was known as the Crossroads when the school was open, and in the process Superbia hits her helmet on the doorframe and is incapacitated. Ancora takes this opportunity to speak to Luxuria some more.
The group split up to search for more ME-cards so they can initiate the first voting session, and this gives Ancora the opportunity to hack into another person's helmet; she decides to hack Luxuria's helmet. This is how she learns that Luxuria and Gula had a direct hand in the death of the ninth person, as well as that Luxuria intentionally left a ME-card hidden in one of the side classrooms. She uses this information to her advantage by turning the group's focus off of her and onto the other suspicious people, but in the process accidentally reveals information she couldn't have known. However, in the process, Luxuria drops the mask enough that the group decides to vote for them anyway, leading to Luxuria being executed.
At this point, Ancora seems to react to a vision of some kind, leading the group to write her strange behavior off as her being mentally unstable and, in turn, unreliable; however, after she leaves and solves the puzzle to lead to the next area by herself, they decide to still allow her to come with them to the next puzzle rooms...
The group was, for the major part, in agreement. Gula had remained almost completely silent since Luxuria had died. After a second or so, she decided to join them again, still mute to all attempts at conversation on the way. It was like she didn't really know what she was going to do anymore.
As they set off towards the new set of doors, Ancora...
We're going to be walking with Tristitia this time around.
At first, the horse was a little bothered that Ancora came near him to walk towards Wing A. After a few seconds, he addressed her on the subject of her visions, while the others spoke aloud a bit further ahead.
Like what? The visions?
Like an out of body experience? I don't really know what to compare it with. It's like my head was getting full of random stuff.
I see... so it's not really like having psychic powers, huh.
I don't... think so?
The two of them kept to themselves afterwards, though the resulting silence wasn't allowed to go on for very long.
From here, the group reaches the intersection where the next three doors are, and Tristitia and Superbia break off from the group to head towards the far door. Ancora ignores their departure and turns to Invidia and the others to prepare for the next puzzle room. She joins Ira and Avaritia, and the trio enter their puzzle room to find a lavish mansion foyer, with a strange throne room next door. The Enneagram of Personality features prominently in this room, with the answer being which person in their group is guilty of murder. In the process of examining the room, the team finds a gun that Ira immediately takes away. The answer is eventually determined to be Helper, and the trio leave the room. The rest slowly make their way into the hallway to see him with the gun still out, but Ira is eventually disarmed by Superbia. The group realizes the time for voting has almost ran out, but that they are still one ME-card short. A fight breaks out between Gula and Superbia, which leads to Superbia reloading the pistol and shooting Gula dead. The group split up from here to process and gather their thoughts, and Ancora takes this opportunity to find a quiet place where she can hack into somebody's helmet...
Maybe now would be a good idea to hack. Let's see... Matching frequencies are Tristitia, Superbia, and Ira. I'm very curious to see what Superbia is up to, but... I've got choices, it seems. For now, I'll be hacking...
We have his directives, so it's time to hack Tristitia.
BGM: Mens Metis
I think the reason his directives weren't actually said in full (to us) is because the directives are a mouthful this time around. In any case, the solution is as follows:
Okay, this one is near impossible without using one of the hints, so don't feel too bad if you couldn't figure it out on your own. Normally, if you see something like LETTER = NUMBER you'd assume it's some sort of substitution cypher, and from there just figure out each letter/number in sequence. However, that's not the correct solution here- as you can see, P is equal to the number 0, which won't work in that kind of cypher (which usually goes from 1-26).
The actual solution here cares about two different factors- what number it is and how many numbers in each value there are. The reason for that is because in this particular puzzle, the numbers actually correspond to what row and column on your keyboard each letter corresponds to- P is 0 because it's in the top row (one digit) and in the last column (if you look at your keyboard, it goes from 1-0, rather than 0-9); in turn, S is 22 because it's in the middle row (two digits) and in the second column. The hints you can choose tell you that P is on the first row, but S is on the second, as well as implying that the word key has a special meaning (i.e., your keyboard). Once you've managed to figure that out, from there, you just figure out what each number's letter equivalent is, and then put them in alphabetical order. Why am I not surprised Tristitia has a bullshit puzzle like this tied to his helmet?
I see, they're talking about the murder.
And who put you in charge, exactly? Look, I really don't like being told what to do. I'm gonna do things my way, and if you get in it, you're out too.
Is that a threat?
What would it change if it was? I can already tell you want to take control of this game. I'm not gonna stand for it, that's for sure. If you think you can lord over me, you can go right to hell.
I just want to keep the playing field leveled. And besides, you think this is a game?
You didn't level the playing field at all! It just means the only one who can shoot is you, and no one else. Even if you don't have the gun, you already showed you can just take it anyway! And-
Aggravated, Superbia gave him the old talk-to-the-hand gesture.
I don't care, so keep your observation to yourself. See you around, or not.
Just like that, she left him, walking away with no intention to come back and speak to him again. Tristitia was left alone. At least, that's what he believed, until he spied Invidia not too far away.
You heard all of this?
Yes. More or less, at least- enough to give me a good idea of what happened.
Invidia rested his back against the nearby metal plates. They weren't next to the voting consoles, but close enough to the stairs that they'd see anyone coming by. If Superbia came back from the consoles, they'd see her for sure.
What should we do? I don't like this situation.
You and me both. At least it makes our target for the vote all that much easier.
You think we should vote for her?
What do you mean? I didn't notice anything.
I thought you were more observant than that. He's acting like a little puppy. While he feigns opposing her, he always does what she wants him to do. It's like he's her slave or something.
He's going to vote for whatever she votes, huh...
The two of them remained silent for a few seconds.
It could easily turn into a tie, and I don't like that. I need to make sure all four of us are on the same page. You go check for Ava, and I'll go check for Cora.
You do not really trust what she's saying, do you?
Tristitia's hands balled up in fists. He was growing a little more peeved the longer this conversation was going on.
Just keeping a level-headed stance on it. As far as I know, anything could happen, so I'm not ignoring any possibility.
That's fine, but we still need to make sure the others are aware. If we get into a tie, there's no saying what might happen. Maybe it'll pick at random, or maybe two will die. I don't think we can afford this much death yet.
Yeah, I know. Let's split up, anyway.
I also have some unfinished business in Wing A, so I'll head there.
The two of them split, with Invidia heading off into the first hallway while Tristitia went towards the wing proper.
It's probably safer to cut the connection, so that I can be there when Tristitia eventually comes by. It's especially bad, because I haven't seen Avaritia and Ira, too...
Just like before, the connection to Tristitia's helmet was cut off, to bring back Ancora's view of the hallway. However, Ancora's helmet no longer displayed anything this time, as if something happened to knock it offline.
There were no sounds or any visuals to be heard or seen respectively, while it should have been showing everything from her helmet's point of view once more.
Something's wrong. This can only happen if someone forcibly knocks it offline. That means someone bashed the helmet and caused the resonance effect strongly enough. Why did I not feel any of it? So then... does this mean Avaritia or Ira did something?
Eventually, Ancora regains her sight and hearing to find Tristitia attempting to help her up. Shaken by the fact she was seemingly assaulted, Ancora hurries away from him, past Ira and Avaritia, and into the Crossroads, where she encounters Invidia. The conversation is standoffish until Ancora confides in Invidia that she was assaulted and lost consciousness. Before the two can figure out who it was the rest of the group reassembles for the vote...
Looking behind herself, Ancora noticed the rest of the group closing in. She decided to walk up the stairs before they caught up with the trio already in the Crossroads. Contrary to what one might think, nothing special happened as the group acknowledge everyone else and stepped forward for the vote. Ancora took her special spot in front of the booth with the shotgun designated for her.
BGM: Mercedis Mellitus
All cards were swiped. All helmets were affixed. At that moment, no one could move anymore.
When did that happen? She hadn't felt it for a while, but she hadn't focused on it before, having far more important matters to think about. Now that she realized that fact, though, this matter felt much more important. Unfortunately, now she was locked in, and there was very little time to think about all this.
Um, guys... before we vote, I wanted to say. Someone has the gun.
No, someone took it from me. It must've been when someone also knocked me unconscious... But I don't know who it is.
The only person who can make use of the gun is Superbia. She's got it, then.
No, I don't. In fact, I don't have the bullets either. Someone took them from me, too.
No lies. If I had that damn gun I'd tell you all to vote for someone right now.
Who's got the gun? Who could take it from Cora? When I got to her, she was passed out.
When I got there, someone already knocked her unconscious. Listen to what I'm saying.
Could've b-been you. I don't think anyone can p-prove otherwise, especially not yourself. What's your alibi, d-dude? Cora, s-seen him do it?
No, I only caught part of the helmet... I was in the corner, and then a sound surprised me from behind. Then I was whacked.
It must've been one of the boys.
Hey, that's a little bit early to say, don't you think?
Okay, so, we have to figure out what's going on. The gun is missing. The bullets are missing. The person who took all of those is not Superbia. Who is it, then?
What's everyone's alibi?
Does it matter, if we're going to vote for Superbia, anyway?
Yes, because who has the gun and the bullets is the most dangerous person here.
I was here the whole time. And need I remind you, someone also clonked me? I wouldn't lose those fucking bullets like a moron.
She huffed aloud, clearly outraged at the fact she had to admit someone outmaneuvered her.
Right, I was in the other hallway the whole time after I spoke with him.
Which means it has to be Trist.
What about Ira?
Eh? You w-wanna say something about me? I was with Ava.
You did come from where Ancora was before that point...
Oh, I just c-checked up on her.
Was it because... you were asked to by Bia?
Huh? How'd you k-know about us?
I didn't, but you're not that hard to trick.
Avaritia is crafty.
Ah, f-fuck. Well, whatever. Yeah, Bia asked m-me to keep an eye on you.
So you took the gun and gave it to her?
Bia is entirely correct.
Something didn't add up completely. Eventually, Ancora realized they were missing something vital. Something that proved who it was.
Before I was punched unconscious... I heard a small noise. It was a little faint, but it sounded like... metal moving? Like a badly lubricated hinge...
The group only had about two minutes left before the timer ran out, but the silence grew over the next ten seconds or so. Everyone was thinking about what it meant.
I think it was a door. If there was a panel in those plates that could be moved... That we missed this whole time... You guys saw the peculiar shape of that metallic plated wall? Maybe... it's basically just telling us that one tile can be moved.
Then Vidi could have taken the gun and the bullets after that once Trist left!
If you don't all vote for Trist, I'll be emptying this gun's chambers in all your helmets.
What? Why? You'll die too, you know.
Ancora couldn't speak from the shock of the reveal. Was this what betrayal felt like?
Completion? Right, that makes a whole lot of sense.
She clicked her tongue. Only ten seconds remained.
Then she voted in the span of time it took to go from three to two, as did everyone else.
Fun detail that Ancora and Superbia's portraits are still swapped here, since Superbia still did that even if we aren't voting for either of us now. Anyway, yeah, I voted for Tristitia.
BGM: Mercedis Mellitus
The screens above the voting consoles settled onto Tristitia'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.
Lock #1 obtained.