Part 37: USBGM: Meditor
...Where am I?
Floating in a sea of nothing... Before, everything was dark. Now, I know that you're here. The thought is comforting. Please, don't go.. not yet. I need you here. Right now.
...but it's useless, isn't it? I already know you'll kill me.
BGM: Mens Metis
YOU and ME now make US.
The classroom was silent. In the room were three individuals. One of them was asleep, the others weren't. One of those awake was me. I stood up. With my helmet finally active, I could see how this room went with my own view, with my own body. It was... different.
It won't take long for Gula to wake up. Luxuria's already up, though, and I can see she was the culprit behind the black spots on Gula's top.
Oh, you're finally up! You're lucky, luckier than this girl at least...
The small girl addressed me while throwing away a black marker pen. No, it wasn't a girl- it was a boy. I remembered then, the trauma of that boy... the scarring of his physical assault. It wasn't my scarring, though. It was Ancora's. Thankfully, I'm not Ancora. I'm Pandora.
Not that lucky considering where we are.
But where are we...? Which school? Is it...
Huh? What's the difference between a school and this place, then? Because we're in a classroom, no?
I don't actually know, all this just sneaked up on me out of nowhere. Right now, we have to wait for Gula to wake up, which she'll do soon, probably.
Gula? Is that her name? Sounds weird.
No weirder than your own, Luxuria.
That's super uncute... Hmm... But I guess you're right. That name does ring a bell, somehow.
Pray pardon my inquiry, but it truly feels as though you are quite knowledgeable about our current predicament. What are you...
She rubbed two hands over her face- over her helmet- before continuing.
I mean, we. What are we adorned with? These unsightly helmets serve which purpose?
They look a little like animal heads. As for their purposes, I think it'll be made clearer to us soon.
Interesting, I suppose. But I desire to remove it.
It was at that moment that I cut them off, or rather, ME did. Everyone's vision became empty. Black. The exterior didn't let any sound come in.
BGM: ME Mori
A girl followed. It was ME, who was me. Much like before, I- or, precisely, my avatar- began talking after a very brief moment of silence.
Hello everyone, and welcome to your unfortunate but warranted prison. My name is ME, and meeting you at last is entirely my pleasure, I assure you. Please remain silent, as no one can hear you, and this is a very important recording you will only hear once. It is shared to all nine of you, to keep the playing field fair.
As that honeyed voice flowed forth, the pose on the screen changed as if to indicate a different emotion. However, the tonality was unchanging, clashing with what was shown.
The helmet you wear is very special. If you attempt to remove it, you will be surrendering your right to live. So I would please urge you to not do that!
Or do it if you want. It's no skin off my back. No, really; I don't have skin, I'm just an avatar.
The avatar's tone grew colder with those words, but it was back to normal as quickly as it had first changed.
I understand it is very uncomfortable, but if you wish to get rid of it, you'll have to follow my instructions later. For the time being, you are stuck with it. Now, very important fact: I am merely an image that represents someone in your group. Your goal in this game is to kill me. To that effect, the game we will play is called... you guessed it, Kill ME.
Unfortunately, your time is not infinite... You have a total of six hours to bring about my death. Should the allotted time expire, you will all surrender your right to live. The thought is so very unbearable... Ah, speaking of time limits... when you are in a room like this one, your time limit is shortened to 39 minutes.
In these first rooms, all three groups will have to figure out what links all of you together. Don't worry; I made it a little easy because the time will have been ticking down to 30 minutes while I spoke.
See, I am fair... as long as you obey the rules.
The chilling stare made its appearance once more, only to be replaced with her normal, kinder eyes afterwards.
Don't worry! As soon as you figure out the answer, simply say: Let ME out! followed by the answer, and the door will automatically come unlocked. Unfortunately, if your answer is wrong, the one who said it will surrender their right to live. I trust you understand this means that if you senselessly scream for me to let you out, you will merely die, so please do not do it!
Or do it if you want. If you animals value your lives so little, then be my guest.
Make absolutely sure to collect the keycards and any weird keys you find here. To disable cheating, you are not allowed to take any item out with you that isn't in one of the final containers of these Deduction Rooms.
Something feels a little... wrong with that recording, but I can't put my finger on what. Maybe it was the last part... It's different.
Uhh.. what... what was that?
I believe that was a message provided to us by our captor. I would prefer dismissing it as an obtuse farce, yet elements such as these uncomfortable helmets lead me to believe all of the arrangements to be true to ME's speech.
But... last thing I remember, I was...
There was a small pause from the small boy.
I can't say, I don't think. It wouldn't be good...
Have you two heard what she said? We need to hurry out of here. Start searching the room now, or we'll surrender our right to live.
Couldn't we introduce ourselves first? I'm, uhh... The only thing that comes to mind is Luxuria...
And to mine, Gula. But that's less palatable than other options. Simply call me Ula.
Oh, we can pick our own nickname? I'll go with Lux, then. What about you?
He addressed me. A part of me wanted to shake him out of his cute act, but I knew that if I was not careful, it could cost me my life. The other part of me wanted to see him try taking it. I wasn't Ancora, he couldn't tackle me down.
Pandora, I see.
Pandora! I like Pandora. It's cute! We should start searching now that that's settled, since the timer's going down I guess...
I can't use the Ancora moniker since Ancora herself will get it. And it never was mine to begin with. It was the other girl's nickname.
I am Pandora... and I will foil the usurpers, even if it means saving everyone.
Well, this sure looks familiar, huh? That said, we aren't going to be solving this puzzle- if we try to, Pandora refuses. That said, we CAN still talk to Luxuria about ME, so I of course went and did just that
About the girl in the helmet...
What about her? She was kinda cute I guess. I like cute things.
Luxuria did a little spin to show himself off, as if this would prove he was cute, too.
And you're not thinking of anything else but what's cute?
Of course not. I don't have time for anything that isn't cute.
His overuse of cute is starting to get on my nerves.
And what about the helmets we're wearing?
Oh, those are not cute. Can we change the topic? Anything else you wanna talk about?
Nothing, I think.
Come back anytime!
No thanks! Gula turns us away if we try to talk to her, so we're locked into investigating the only thing of note in here...
... the box.
I stood in front of the box that had caused me no ends of headaches. It had always been at the back of my mind.
What is its purpose? What is inside? It has never been opened before.
You are not seriously thinking about lifting this encapsulating device, are you? I have attempted such a few minutes ago, to no avail.
And if Ula can't do it, then... I don't think I can, either.
This box? If I can lift it?
I figured I may as well humor Gula on that one. With both hands, I grabbed the sides and put forth all of my energy into lifting the box...
It's really light, actually.
I let it fall to the ground, expecting it to comically bounce as if it was made of rubber. However, it gave a solid noise, as if a truck had crashed into the wall.
I stared at the box, bewildered. I questioned myself on the reason why I could lift it with such ease while they struggled so much. I also looked around it, trying to find the keypad to enter the code from before.
How can you lift it so easily...? I could feel how heavy it was from over here!
Gula remained silent. I put the first four numbers into the keypad... I really wanted to finally see what was inside of that box.
The first part was in and it was correct. I readied for the second part.
The box unlocked! I quickly opened the metallic lid...
Inside was nothing. The entire box contained nothing but a large block of concrete. On it was engraved the question Who are you? and nothing else.
What have you unearthed?
Who are you? What kind of question is that?
Right after that, everyone's vision became obscured once more.
BGM: ME Mori
What does it mean?
It was ME.
Congratulations! Someone opened the box. How fitting that it was Pandora herself. Well, actually, you were made for that, so it's really on purpose, sister.
Every door in this place is now opened and unlocked. However, you'll still have to go through all of my little game. It just has... changed a little, from the original plan. The next directives are for Pandora. Send everyone to a separate room. Make sure they enter alone in each of those rooms. The doors will lock as normal, and they will have to solve them, alone. You can organize that, right?
You're the leader of My Emptiness. That's correct, that's what links you all here. Sorry to break the surprise. Oops, you're not really that Pandora, are you? You're the Pandora of this... place. You and her- you're different people, but I'm sure you understood that already. So I want everyone else to understand that, too.
As I said, plans have changed. Gather all of the keycards; all of the ME-cards. Tell them what answers they need to solve their own rooms. Each of the set of rooms beyond these ones corresponds to one of you. I will be suspending the voting process indefinitely to that effect. I'm sure eight of you have no idea what I'm talking about- that's fine. Please simply trust in Pandora. She will lead you out of here.
Or from this jar, if you want to be referentially correct. Have I forgotten anything? Oh, yes. The Sally-Anne Test. Don't worry over it: in light of these events, I've already disabled 15 of the ME-card slots. You only need 24 now. Of course, this also means your time limits in each room just fell down to 24 minutes. With Pandora's help, you'll already have the answer and the process to solve them all, so it should be no big deal.
I can't believe you animals are the key to saving the future. If I had to rely on you, I'd kiss my ass goodbye.
Saving the future, in a manner of speaking. It's more like... not screwing up the future more than saving it. And by the way, forget the whole deal with recordings. This is real time. I'm an AI named ME. Let's stop my messages for now and reconvene later.
Now, you know what to do.
And with that, the recording cut off. True to what ME was saying, the door clicked as it came unlocked and everyone's timers disappeared.
My head hurts. Let's... let's get out of here. I don't understand anything.
Honestly, I'm a little... confused too. But I think I have the gist of it. Let's go.
This time, this body isn't going to be killed off by the two of them. And yet, it seems as though Ityne and Marco already accounted for me unlocking the box? I don't know what's up with this, but I'll overcome that, too. I'm coming for the two of you. In a few moments, even, so just you wait.