Part 30: MEtaphysics
Ancora left the room with the shotgun in hand. Once again in the hallway, she noticed her helmet read roughly a half hour after first entering. 20 minutes remained. If nothing was done in 20 minutes, she'd die.
Unless the system would coincidentally go down, that is. Still, there was something very wrong with the previous room. I don't remember setting it up. Not the room, the question, or anything else. Did I forget something? None of this feels correct, in any capacity.
Hey. Did you figure anything interesting in that room?
No, we can't talk about it. Are you gonna let go of that?
How come you can't talk about it?
She disregarded the inquiry about the firearm entirely.
We were told by ME that if we talked about it, we'd die.
Did she say you'd die...?
He shook his head in a dismissive fashion.
And what about those bowls?
She pointed at the cyan and red bowls the two of them were carrying. All Superbia had to say about it was a shrug.
They were in the safe that contained the ME-card and the key we found. We each took one, but I don't know what they're for.
Anyway, what about you? Did you get told you couldn't share your knowledge, too?
He seemed less bothered by the shotgun than Superbia was.
No. I don't think it's really gonna be helpful, though... so I'm gonna hold off unless we need it. It's definitely going to distract us, and we don't have time to go on wild tangents right now.
Time is always working against us, isn't it?
Almost as if on cue, the two of them emerged from their room after their door unlocked. The five survivors reunited together and shared their meager findings- namely, they all had one ME-card and one key from each room. Nothing else. Other than Ancora's shotgun and the two bowls.
Together, this gives us 24 ME-cards and 9 strange keys. We're missing 15 ME-cards.
Yes, we are. However, I have a bit of a plan...But, I can't share it with anybody except for Trist.
That's what ME said. I don't know why, either, I just can't tell anyone else. If you'll excuse me then, I don't have much time, and it takes a while to explain, so...
She reached for Trist's wrist, pulling him away from the others. The two of them vanished into the hallway.
Think we should follow them to eavesdrop?
Ancora stayed silent.
Just kidding. In reality, we can share it with you guys too, but I don't know if it's a good idea for now. I think she just made it up to get away from your gun.
If we could fire it, it would solve the problem of needing two more deaths, at least.
I figured it might cause something like that to happen. I have no intention of shooting anybody, and besides, even if ME really said that, you haven't been punished for breaking into somewhere you weren't meant to be, right?
So what do we do now? Do we just sit here until the others come fetch us again?
That seems to be the plan. At least we're back with our original group, huh, grumpyface?
I am not... Oh, whatever.
It didn't seem like she had the energy to oppose Invidia in such a way anymore. Ancora was just as tired. This entire ordeal was taking a toll on her too, both mentally and physically.
You know... we haven't really done much chitchat in general, huh?
Like talking about the weather? That's kinda useless...
It's not just about the colors themselves. Of course what color you like best will never be important unless, say, you end up dating someone, and they want to give you a present in the color you like best.
That's good and all, but my favorite color is green.
I must be your favorite, then.
He pointed at his outfit which was, partially, green.
I guess? I don't have a preference if it's dark or bright, though...
So you liked Lux?
She was pretty nice. Just a victim of circumstances...
The timer was quickly approaching the 45 minute mark. Around that point in time, their conversation was interrupted by Avaritia calling over to them.
Hey, Superbia, mind if I get your bowl?
The question took her by surprise. Ancora remembered, back in the first room, how combative she had been over a simple cylinder. Yet, defying all expectations, Superbia handed it over like it wasn't any big deal.
I don't get anything that's happening here, so whatever... you can have it.
And with that done, the woman walked away again. This time, the group's curiosity was piqued. It was like Superbia said: none of them were getting anything that was going on.
Even I am at a loss now.
After a few more seconds, they decided to walk out, believing the sharing of information between the two others had taken long enough by then. They walked through the hallway, still without signs of Avaritia or Tristitia.
Tristitia waved them over.
I was going to fetch you soon, but this is fine, too. So... I can't share what's behind this, but I can share what my plan is right now.
We take a ME-card and vote, right?
Not yet. I know, I know, the timer is ticking. This is important, trust me. First of all, here in this bowl are all the ME-cards we got except the ones each of you are carrying, all which totals to 15, since 9 of them are already discarded.
He stared over at Ancora. The girl understood that this was all due to her and Luxuria, as they placed the ME-cards into the machine earlier.
But that's fine, we're still good to go. I'll need each and every one of you to put your ME-cards into this. We need every little bit we have left.
And why should we put our ME-cards in there? We need to vote.
BGM: Memini Meminisse
Maybe we don't anymore. I want to try out a theory. It's very important that Cora watches this. So, everyone, put your ME-cards in.
This time he was a little less generous with the leeway he was giving them. All of them obeyed, and every ME-card ended up in the bowl. Self-conscious about the gun she'd taken, Ancora tightened her grip while she handed her ME-card over. At least, no one was going to pull a fast one on her.
I am very curious about what Tristitia has planned, and why he's singling someone out like that.
Okay. Now, if everything is correct...
He turned the bowls over. The cyan one covered 15 ME-cards and the red one was empty.
And a part of me feels like... it was meant to go this way, too. So listen, because this bowl has all 15 ME-cards underneath it. Then, you need to move away from our group, and use your psychic powers to see what I'm doing with the bowls. Either I'll leave them as they are now- with the 15 ME-cards under this one- or I'll switch the ME-cards to the red one. What I've decided to do is to take them all out and put them under the red bowl.
Wait, you're not supposed to tell me that, are you? I'm supposed to use my powers, whatever they are...
I actually don't understand what his plan involves.
No, that's fine. I'm telling you right now...
He put some emphasis onto his words.
Ancora checked the timer: they had ten minutes left, at best. Deciding to roll with it, she left the group, walking back into the original hallway where everything had begun, since she wouldn't see anything of them anymore behind the closed doors.
This is my cue to use the helmets to spy on them. This feels a little silly, though... But what choice do I have? It'll be over really quickly, anyway. And if all else fails... I guess two people will get shot. For now, I'll be hacking...
We're going to be hacking Avaritia here.
BGM: Mens Metis
The solution for this puzzle is:
This one's surprisingly straightforward, but the directive does not help in the slightest; I literally don't know how you're expected to solve this without using the hints. You can disregard the outside slots, as the only thing that matters is the three entries in the center. The hints tell you in some countries, / is a dot instead and then you'll need a calender for this one; the solution is 2/8 = 39, or 'February 8th is the 39th day of the year'. Again, how the hell are you supposed to solve this without using the hints?
Yet, the girl had gone elsewhere. Looking around the classrooms, Avaritia found her after a few moments. The older woman sat against the wall outside of the classroom, not disturbing her for a few. Ancora didn't give her attention, focusing on her psychic power use.
There's something weird about seeing this from a whole different angle. Even if Avaritia disturbs the process, it doesn't matter since it won't work. It's not actually psychic powers. How long is this goose chase going to last?
BGM: Memini Meminisse
Hey, Avaritia... do you think it's real?
Might as well do small banter, huh?
Ancora spoke from inside the classroom. Avaritia could hear her clearly anyway, and she shrugged.
I don't know. It's completely beyond me. Logic dictates none of this is going to work, but... I've seen some strange things today already. Shotguns that don't really shoot you, but you die anyway. Voting mechanisms. Convoluted puzzles. Keycards that look like a lump of plastic with some paint on them... but they work anyway.
She giggled a little, but she could tell that her words weren't having the effect she wanted.
Oh, I'm not making fun of you or anything. I'm just laughing because... I guess it's the stress. I just can't take it anymore, you know. I want to leave. It's only been almost six hours, but it feels like a lifetime. I've seen death, I've heard torment, I've felt fear, I've gone through the entire spectrum. Except for joy. And joy is when I'll finally be able to leave...
She didn't have much to say to Avaritia's monologue. After that, she tried to call upon her latent psychic abilities again, to very little avail. No matter how much she tried, she just... couldn't do it. Avaritia remained silent. She instead looked out of the closed doors, into the Crossroads. It was probably better that way. The small banter reassured Ancora a little, but it also distracted her. Every time she could call upon these abilities, she was alone.
It would be hard to move during that, I guess. Carrying a conversation without seeing your interlocutor is also a problem.
I assume there had been a mistake before, or she's messing with them for fun? One thing's clear at least, now I know where the ME-cards are.
After that, Avaritia grumbled something while walking back to the classroom Ancora was in. This time, she knocked on the door. But then the screen went black.
Did the connection cut?
A few minutes passed. It quickly became clear the connection hadn't cut. And yet, for some reason, there had been a blackout in Avaritia's helmet.
Say, do you know about the man...
Hey, they say it's fine to come back now! That goes for you too, Ancora.
Alright. I did say it should be fine after a few minutes.
Well, we are almost out of time due to this bullshit now, so I hope whatever stupidity you idiots are planning is going to actually work and not just rob us all of our lives.
Trust me, I'm even more stressed out by this than you are.
Yeah, that would be nice, but no, it's not due to my age. Tell the others that I'll be there promptly with Cora.
Superbia gave an annoyed howl at being treated like a messenger pigeon, storming off into the Crossroads again.
Hey! You two imbeciles! Avaritia says she'll be there promptly!
Her booming voice could be faintly heard in the distance.
Okay, enough. Whatever Avaritia wanted to say, she can say it later. It's imperative to get the vote underway.
The connection cut off at that precise moment, taking a little bit to re-establish vision to the one Ancora wore herself.
Ancora took a few steps outside the classroom, but stopped in her tracks.
What is it? Is something wrong?
No... just that something's really strange, I guess. I don't feel too good about this.
I've got a bad feeling about it, if you ask me.
I've got a bad feeling about this too.
I've got a bad feeling about this too.
The girl noticed she was still carrying the shotgun with her. Right, she found it in the room she investigated before... and for some reason, she felt like Avaritia was trustworthy. There was just this part of her that told her...
BGM: Memini Meminisse
You can trust her. If she doesn't have the shotgun, you'll die.
Far from her to argue against her inner voice, she handed the firearm over to a very surprised teacher. The woman waited for a second before reaching for it.
Something in me said, Ava will need this.
I don't know.
With that done, Ancora and Avaritia stepped forward once again. The timer was coming down on them. Whatever plan Tristitia had in mind, it had better work. Five minutes remained.
The group seemed surprised when Avaritia came up, too. They looked at each other in turns, noticing the teacher had the shotgun Ancora previously held. However, no one commented on that. Tristitia went straight to business and understandably so.
Based on what you've seen, Cora... Pick a bowl. Any bowl.
Ancora briefly paused. Four minutes remained. She made her choice...
I'm picking the red bowl. I'm deciding to trust you when you say this was the bowl they're all under, and that you moved them.
Tristitia lifted his head, looking over at Invidia. The wolf stared back at him, giving a shrug. Without any other communication, Invidia moved away from the group, and Ava sat down onto the ground, waiting for the outcome. Ancora was taken by Invidia moving away, but when Tristitia reached for the bowl, her attention snapped back to what he was doing.
He lifted the red bowl as if to confirm that thought. Underneath were all 15 ME-cards, piled together as prepared beforehand by the group. Then he lifted the other bowl, under which was nothing.