Part 34: MEristem
The game was giving us a hint as to who those directives belong to when it mentions melange, which is the name of one of the segments on the other half of this flowchart split- it's basically just a precaution if you, somehow, manage to get to this part and answer the quiz correctly on your first try without seeing the other path. We've already done the other path, though, so no point in wasting any time- we know who we need to hack. No need to really recap anything, either, since this is all territory we've been over a ton already; we're skipping through the first vote, where Ira gets executed, to the point after finishing the principal's office deduction room with Superbia and Luxuria. The key conversation with Invidia still does not matter. Ancora finds the quiet corner stairwell, Invidia goes out of bounds and dies, and we decide to hack someone else....
Right now, I need to hack someone, especially because tensions will be at an all-time high due to someone surrendering their right to live. For now, I'll be hacking...
It's Superbia, obviously.
BGM: Mens Metis
Finally, we're back to the easy ones! The solution for this puzzle is:
All you gotta do is put the consonants first and then the vowels second. Doesn't matter what order you put em in.
Ugh! I can't believe I went along with his stupid idea.
It's the last time I do something for Vidi, especially if he's fucking dead now too. I already have a ME-card... Ancora can find hers on her own. She probably had more luck in her search than me, too.
She paused for a moment.
Maybe that's a bit harsh. I guess we do need to find all of them... this is totally boring, though. There's nothing in these rooms at all! What's the point of checking this wing again?! You fucking moron, going up and dying on me like that without explaining a single thing.
She kicked one of the doors in annoyance. In one of her hands was a piece of paper. She unfolded it to read it over again.
And what do you mean, I'm lying to us? You're lying? And who's us? This is so dumb.
I'm lying to us? What is this note from Invidia all about?
Growing too irritated to contain herself, she tore the paper to bits and threw it in the trash. A few seconds later, she ran into Avaritia and Luxuria who just so happened to come into Wing A.
At first, Superbia had tried to act like she didn't see them, but it became more and more impossible as the two of them closed the distance.
Have you found anything so far?
No, I didn't find anything, but at least with Vidi gone, we've got all the time in the world!
I guess... but there's no point in rejoicing about it.
What's the big deal, anyway? Look, I want to be nice and whatever, but it's not like our predicament hasn't been weighing down my mind. We're still going to die if we don't vote in the next hour or so. And honestly, the earlier we vote the better.
Do you really want to be nice, or are you just saying that like that? I just... wanted to not be mean for those who are gone.
What do they care, anyway? They're gone. It's not like they're going to walk up to me and slap me.
As a student, nobody gives a shit. In here, you're the same as everyone else. That means you're expendable, according to Pandora.
Oh, you guys remember, yeah? Pandora is our leader. Or leader, I should say. Never seen her face. Still gave me directives. Hate that, hate it so much. Hate being told what to do. I'm my own girl.
You're your own bitch, yes. None of this is any useful. What were you doing before, anyway? Looking around here for a ME-card?
Yes. Vidi told you before he croaked?
He did. How awfully nice of you, but I don't think you're going to find anything here. This is a waste.
Luxuria had remained quiet for a while. She made a sign for Superbia. Clearly, she wanted to talk without Avaritia around.
Most likely related to the team?
Good idea, for once. We can cover more ground that way. I'll see you two later.
The teacher wandered off, leaving the two girls alone.
Bia... Next round, vote for me.
What? What's the point of that? Why are you...
It'll buy you guys more time. It's okay, I'll be fine, I found a way to not get shot so I won't die at all.
No, you won't be fine, and you are going to die! But you know, thinking about it, it's not like I care that much. Thanks, I guess. I'll go along. At least it means it's not me who's next.
As she walked away, it became clear she was coming towards the corner Ancora was hiding within. The key was still in the lock; if she didn't act quickly, Superbia was going to figure out this door can be opened, and then things could spiral out of control. The simplest solution was to just cut the feed for the time being.
From here, we get the same scene as before; Superbia and Ancora talk about how few ME-cards they've found, they rejoin the group where Luxuria is attempting to convince the others to vote for him, and Tristitia pushes the group into preparing to vote...
We can't keep bickering like this. We need a plan, and we need 39 ME-cards, or everyone dies!
Reminding everyone of that fact, Tristitia caused a ripple of panic to spread across the group. Ancora found it a nice way to remind everyone of their current predicament.
Ahh, you're right... we're going to die... Even bigger of a reason to begin at once.
That's why we should get the vote over quickly! Just vote for me...
Yeah, just, let's just vote, get this over with.
But am I okay with this? To have Luxuria die by the vote?
Stop with these baseless accusations.
They're not too baseless, though...
Fortunately for the matter at hand, it seemed that Gula and Luxuria agreed with Ancora.
Huh. Didn't think it would be so easy.
If it's what the majority wants...
Hey, wait a minute! That's not what we agreed on!
What you agreed on?
That's duplicitous as fuck! I am not putting my head in front of that shotgun!
Unfortunately for Superbia, Luxuria swiped her ME-card before she could even realize what was going on. The rabbit girl ran after the smaller one, but she was too fast, and soon, the ME-card was in Superbia's console.
BGM: Mercedis Mellitus
The others had followed the exchange while moving towards their consoles, too, ready to jump in if Superbia didn't cooperate. Shortly after, all ME-cards were in, and Gula and Tristitia were pushing Superbia towards the shotgun.
The insults kept coming as the clock ticked. Everyone took their spot as Superbia gesticulated. She slammed her vote down for someone, though it wouldn't change the ultimate outcome as everyone else was voting for her.
Is it fine? I don't know. It feels like this is a mistake, somehow. Something feels extremely amiss with how easily the situation was overturned...
But it wasn't like Ancora had all the time in the world, either. She was the last one to vote.
Hey, I wonder what the thing that was overlooked was? I'm sure it's nothing. Anyway, time to definitely and confidently vote for Superbia, the person we are for sure executing here!
The board exposed the votes much like before. What happened was surprising...Even though everyone seemingly voted for Superbia, Ancora was the one with five votes. Superbia only had one single vote.
What...? Are you all... Did you all set this up?
Ancora stared in bewilderment at the results. It was the final thing she would stare at.
Oh no, the rest of the group must have banded together, somehow. I knew this was proceeding far too easily.
With this outcome, she had surrendered her right to live.
I guess I should have been more vigilant. Should have tried to figure what's going on so this didn't happen. Now that it's over, there's no point in sticking around... not that I can, anyway.
Alas, it has nothing to do with me anymore. It's time to embrace eternity... and rest for now.
Despite how it may feel, we picked up a vital piece of information during this route that the game didn't draw much attention to. We have everything we need to use it, too, so... it's time to try something new:
Ancora continues talking to Invidia in the initial classroom. Everything up until the first vote is same as always, resulting in Ira's execution. Ancora agrees with the rest and immediately gives up on teaming up, and she ends up partnering with Luxuria and Superbia. Ancora explores the principal's office deduction room, and after the three escape and split up to search for ME-cards, Ancora runs into Invidia as he leaves their own deduction room...
When Ancora walked by the second door down the hall, she heard a small click. Next, the door came open and, just as quickly, out was Invidia.
Oh, hey, Cora. Your group finished, huh?
Yeah. Where's Trist?
Oh, he's coming. He wanted to examine the room a little bit more. It's not really my stuff, so I decided to leave earlier. I got a ME-card, and I guess your group found two, too. Right, I also got this key.
He showed it to Ancora; the teeth had a strange shape, in the form of the letter I.
Yeah, an Artificial Intelligence. I'm kidding, it's mostly because the first one looked like an A, and this one's like an I, see...
He scratched his jaw a little, pensive for a moment.
To be entirely serious, I don't think I could make an AI, honestly. They're super complex, you know? They're a bit like us in design. An artificial person, created by code, who can think and improve on their own!
Yeah... that's a little far-fetched. I dunno if we'll get there for a while. I mean, some people can still barely use the internet without taking over their phone line... But more importantly, about the keys, what do you think they mean, anyway? They have letters on them, right?
Whatever it is, it's not possible to solve without all the keys. But asking other people might tip me off about their knowledge of this game.
Beats me. Okay, listen, this is going to sound a little random, but... Which one do you like most in the group?
Huh? What do you mean? Who I...
No, no, the group of keys. Which letter do you like most?
Oh, you mean that! Um...
Ancora chose after a second: she picked...
All the conditions are right for this choice to matter, and we have to say G is our favorite here- even if the results more or less end up the same...
I like the G key more, I think. It's kinda familiar, too.
Oh, really? That's a bummer. I wanted to trade for it; the A key for your G key. You know, A like Ancora?
Well... alright, that's okay by me. I mean, they're just keys, and we don't know what they do, so I don't mind.
The two of them traded keys together. Ancora gave her G key away to Invidia, while he gave her his A key.
The scene plays out the same after this point. Ancora goes to the corner room, and unlocks it with the A key she received from Invidia. We know for a fact now that the writing on the wall is an anagram Invidia dies and Ancora decides to hack Avaritia, though no notable information comes out of doing so. After disconnecting and leaving the corner stairwell, Superbia and Ancora talk about how few ME-cards they've found, they rejoin the group where Luxuria is attempting to convince the others to vote for him, and Tristitia pushes the group into preparing to vote.
After giving it some thought, Ancora agrees with the group: they are all going to vote for Luxuria. We already know what the outcome of that will be- it's Avaritia who is executed, not Luxuria. This turn of events is enough to spur Tristitia to pull his gun on the group, promptly killing Luxuria in retaliation. He then kills Superbia, as he knows about the crime she committed- her murder. This leaves Tristitia, Gula, and Ancora, and Tristitia begins threatening Ancora as by process of elimination she's the only one of the three who could be the mastermind (considering Gula's speech patterns and the real time ME messages), even if it makes no sense to him. While he's distracted, Gula attempts to knock Tristitia out, giving Ancora a chance to run...
Ancora took the chance; she booked it. She ran down the stairs while a gunshot fired. That was his fifth one; he only had one more bullet in that six-chamber revolver.
If he could only shoot Gula... or waste his shot...
But Ancora's fervent chase didn't last very long. Tristitia caught up to her after she reached the intersection. Having forgotten the door wasn't open yet, she ran towards it and the puzzle pad. That was when he caught up to her.
I really thought we were going somewhere with this. I guess it was inevitable when all heck breaks loose like this. Still, I can't go yet. I think there's more to do, but do I have a choice? I suppose I don't, unless a miracle happens.
By miracle, I was there.
I latched onto the first compatible helmet there was. I don't know whose this is.
With the original broken, there was no longer a need to hack into any other helmet. In fact, there was no longer a way to do so at all. I was stuck in this one.