Part 81: This is Another Story.
content warning: suicide, manipulation/gaslighting
If it wasn't obvious, we're at another branching point, this time with one path leading to the second Bad Ending of Fatal Twelve. This time, we're going to be making the wrong choice first, as how the rest of the week plays out differs considerably based on what you choose at this point.
BGM: Rinka's Room
-Get in touch with her.
-Leave her be for now.
I guess I shouldn't bother her right now...
Chances are she wants some time to herself. Especially on a day where she just revealed secrets she's been keeping for so long. In that case... I plug my phone into the charger by my pillow before lying down.
Unable to hold my frustration back, I grab my phone and call her. But her line's busy... I'm unable to get a hold of her after that, nor does she try to call me back.
BGM: At Amecha Girls' University High School
06/29 (FRI), Noon
Friday. Today rolls around without any progress in regards to the Court of Fate as well as information regarding the remaining participants. I haven't been able to get in contact with Miharu since Tuesday night, either. She hasn't been at school, and none of the teachers have anything to say other than she's off sick.
You been in touch with Miharu at all, Rinny?
Looks like Mao hasn't had much luck, either. That alone is proof that something's up. There's nothing I can do, though. I just spend my days worrying about her.
BGM: Rinka's Room
07/01 (SUN), Night
Divine Selection is tonight... That thought is just depressing to me now. I'd hoped to make some progress, but I've ended up doing the exact opposite. I'll need to put more effort in next week. For now, I'll focus on sleep and pray that next week actually comes.
BGM: The Sacred Large Hall
07/01 (SUN), Midnight
Good evening, my lovely little slaves to fate.
I take a look around the Court of Fate. Only five participants remain.
Numeral I, myself.
Numeral II, Miharu.
Numeral III, Federico.
Numeral IX, Scale.
Numeral XII, Alan.
It has certainly gotten lonely in here, hasn't it?
And I bet it makes you feel all tingly inside.
Goodness, how rude! I'll have you know that the loss of people to converse with has me quite upset.
Another rude person, I see. What is it that you want?
Spare me your dramatic nonsense. Is it true that whoever survives will become your vessel?
Alan fires a blunt question at her. He must have heard about it from Scale. I doubt Scale would give that info away for free though, so they must have exchanged information. Parca averts her eyes from Alan for a moment. Not just for fun, though. It looks like she wants to examine Miharu's expression.
Hmph... That answers my question.
You may feel free to reveal your information to someone and have them eliminate you, should that not be to your liking.
I just wanted to confirm the truth. The final participant will still be able to live on once all is said and done, correct?
That is correct.
That's fine, then.
And thus begins this week's round of Divine Selection.
BGM: Do You Understand?
Allow me to begin tonight's election. Revolve, O' Clock of Fate!
With the small talk over, Parca signals for the gigantic clock hand to revolve. The tone of her voice sounds colder than usual. I have a bad feeling about this.
Will you be electing anyone, Numeral I?
I shake my head in response. I'm still unsure whether or not I should elect Scale. I haven't properly explained that we could all elect and protect ourselves yet. I haven't talked things through with Miharu, either. Speaking of Miharu, she has her head down, a gloomy expression on her face. Something must have happened. I couldn't get in contact with her though, and I got chased away at the door when I tried to visit her. It hurts, but there's nothing I can do.
I figure she won't elect anyone. However...
I... I elect Numeral I...
Oh me, oh my!
Pardon me. The shock almost made me forget my position. Very well. Now, then...
I'm unable to parse anything else after that. My mind has gone completely blank. My emotions soon follow. And then the platform I stand on begins to rise. The only thing that awaits me now is death.
And then immediate cut to credits. Same for Bad End 1, there's nothing of note in the credits to look at, so we'll skip straight to the post-credits scene...
BGM: The Memory Remains
Two months ago, on May 3rd. On that day, Mao lost her two best friends at the same time. They both met their ends at different places. Shishimai Rinka was caught in a terrorist attack while raiding the train. Her attempt to save her junior, Hitsuji Naomi, resulted in her death. Mishima Miharu committed suicide in her own bedroom. She slit her wrist and then took several sleeping pills.
You two have left me all alone...
She whispers to herself in front of her friend's house. Rinka's grandmother had a relative to take care of, leading her to return to the countryside following Rinka's funeral. Lion House has closed down for good as a result. However, she seems to have been unable to part with the house, by nature of all the memories it contains. Mao understands all too well how she feels.
Rinny always went on about how this place was everyone's second home. It can't be a home if no one lives there anymore, though.
No one is around to hear her.
We promised we'd go to the theme park together...
A promise that will never be kept. Mao hasn't spoken with Naomi since Rinka's funeral. It just feels too awkward.
I get that I need to move on. I do...
The sight of Lion House stirs up her memories.
Funny how you can dream of things you'll never do...
She dreamt about them all going to the theme park together. About drinking coffee made by Rinka at Naomi's class during the culture festival. About putting way too much milk and sugar in the coffee. About eating lunch with Rinka and Miharu up on the school roof. All scenarios that can no longer happen, and yet ones she sees unfold in her dreams often. Ones that felt so real, they could be mistaken for actual memories.
Goes to show just how much of a mess I am.
Mao spends around half an hour in front of Lion House following that. Just as she sets her mind on leaving, she bumps into a man walking in the opposite direction from her. He probably didn't notice her moving due to his height.
Sorry about that. Hopefully I didn't bump your lovely face.
Huh...? Nah, I'm fine.
Mao makes her displeasure apparent and assumes that he's hitting on her. He's a foreigner. He spoke in Japanese to her, albeit brokenly, so she figures he either lives here or is a tourist who has gotten used to the country.
Oh, this is the place. Damn. She lived pretty close to the final destination.
Wait. Did you know Rinny?
Rinny? Oh, you mean Shishimai Rinka? Sure, I knew her. My buddy was... pretty fond of her.
...How did they know each other, exactly?
Hmm... I take it you're from the same school as Miharu.
You knew Miharun, too?
Do you mind telling me about both of them? If there are sides to them that I don't know, then I want to learn about them.
Ah... You were buds with them, weren't you?
Mao shows a rare hint of desperation. She wants to make as much of their existence a part of her as she can. Even more if it involves details of which she is unaware. Even if it results in an outburst of tears while thinking about them.
We weren't just buds. We were best friends.
How much can I say, really? Oh well, guess it can't hurt to spill all the beans now that it's over. I gotta be at the national park or whatever it's called, though. Mind if we talk there?
Pretty weird timing to start hitting on me, dude.
Th-That ain't what I'm doing! Besides, you ain't my type!
Man, you're the worst.
Well, whatever. I'll take you there, so make sure you fill me in. It's tough not to be curious about how they knew someone like you.
Tch. How come everyone sees me that way?
They both set off following that. Mao would come to learn about things far beyond her understanding for the first time in her life, but that's a story for another time. A story that leads toward the future. One with countless encounters and partings intertwined. Time is precious precisely because it only moves forward. A fact everyone comes to realize at some point in their lives.
That night, a certain phone call takes place. The recipient of that call is Mishima, or Hebinata, Miharu. The caller, Scale Jones. Exceptional at spinning words, he makes use of his ability to its fullest and convinces Miharu...
Nothing will come from your love for Rinka, no matter how strong it may be.
Telling her how you feel will only damage your relationship.
Rinka's regret doesn't involve you.
You'll never be more than just friends with her.
There is one way to make her yours, though.
Eliminate her. Take control of her fate. That's the same as making her yours.
Miharu would brush it off as nonsense under normal circumstances. That was the worst night for him to call, though. She had just unveiled her secret to Rinka. A secret she felt terrible for keeping in the first place. But that wasn't all. There was something else she had kept secret. Her lack of courage to reveal it was eating away at her.
Be honest with yourself.
That single line from Scale becomes something of a drug to Miharu. Her decision to ignore Rinka's call is a crucial one. One that causes a fork within fate itself.
Now I get it... I just wanted to have Rinka all to myself.
Even if it means killing her.
[BAD ENDING B: THIS IS ANOTHER STORY.]
[END OF WEEK NINE (PART A): THE TRUTH OF DIVINE SELECTION]