Part 10: mASsacre
BGM: Active Search
Last time, we ended on a puzzle, where you have to input a code using a riddle and the suits on the windows to figure it out. Your guess was close, but unfortunately incorrect!
The answer to this puzzle is, in fact, Diamond Heart Heart Club. This riddle is predicated on two assumptions that you, the solver, are set up to make without any actual evidence- that the solution will use all four suits, and that you only use each suit once. The riddle itself states that the couple 'proclaim themselves king and queen of hearts', which in fact is a clue that heart is used twice, as there's two of them. Spades are never mentioned, and therefore are not a part of the answer.
I pressed the button under the stained glass of diamonds, of hearts, of hearts, of clubs. After I did, since I apparently entered the sequence in the correct order, something happened nearby. I turned around; the altar had opened its side nearest to me.
I walked behind the altar after it opened in the back. There was a lot of machinery underneath. Some gears were spinning in empty space. If the gears had been closer, they would form an uninterrupted chain. Yet, I didn't see how I could've moved them. A socket below was clearly indicating I needed a lever of some sort.
Maybe I could go and ask E for some wisdom about this.
Well, when it's the only option I have...
I conferred with E over the mechanism in the back of the altar.
You say there are gears, correct? Let me take a feel so I know what it is.
I hastily added that some of the cogs were moving, and it might be dangerous. Her hand could get stuck there.
I confirmed that fact. This was quickly shredding through my stash of paper... While E was debating over what to do, I thought it strange this room didn't have a spare lever somewhere to push into the socket.
You'd think this place wouldn't make a puzzle like that impossible...
I think I get it. What do the cogs look like, first?
I couldn't draw a picture, since she didn't see, so I described them instead. The variou sgears were metallic and held with large axles. The one gear that could move seemed to have some sort of empty socket in the middle. There were other pieces of machinery underneath, but none of them looked like they could move.
That's right. Maybe we can do that, and the lever is a red herring. Instead then, what I'm looking for is a smaller stick...
I had to look around every nook and cranny again to find that little metal stick.
Time to re-investigate! I'll start with the stained glass on the left.
Negative. No metal stick here. There is only stained glass.
I stared into it for a moment. The more I stared, the harder my stare grew. The more I stared, the more entranced I became by the various shapes in the window. So this was the power of religion... Pretty.
This already helped me. There was nothing else of note on the surface or inside of it.
I wonder if members of the clergy store alcohol in here to take drinks during sermons. Hmm... probably not. It would cause some kind of scandal.
Not that the church had ever shied away from all sorts of scandals...
Simon out here with the hot takes about religion, damn! What about the Smiley symbol?
No matter where I looked over there, I didn't find any sort of stick. For a moment, I thought I could faintly make out the outline of some weird panel on the side, though.
Must've been my imagination.
Just to be safe, I pressed against it. The depression in the surface was flat.
I glanced into the large pot of incense on the altar.
If this thing was burning, this place would become spiritually-charged. I don't have anything to burn it with, though.
I absentmindedly dragged a finger into the incense. Wait...
Hold on. What's this?
This is a metallic stick. That's just what I was looking for. Who knew that to find it, I had to make the incense become outcense....
Following E's advice, I tried manually moving the cogs.
There's no way this is going to work.
It worked with the axle.
The cogs connected and, careful not to get my hand stuck in there, I removed myself from the premises. A panel opened on the side of the altar in the back. It had been so silent, if I hadn't moved closer beforehand, I wouldn't have noticed it.
The mechanism of this place is well-maintained....
Eight, six, two, four, one, three, seven, and five. I guess this is our code to escape.
I walked back down the stairs to the benches, deciding to fetch E. Before we left, though, I remembered I wanted to investigate the possible link everyone shared.
BGM: Algorithm Simile
What do I do? Hmm... prior to my recent loss of vision and hearing, I studied at the University of Montreal.
I was surprised by that. Once again, I found something adding to the theory involving the university. Marco, Ray, her and I all shared that school. Not just any university... that one in particular.
It's kind of hard to explain, but it's about what thought is and what constitutes thought. I took extended courses in personality studies and neurology as well. It's all very complex...
Even at the university, you had to take unrelated courses to fill up your curriculum. I assumed her inability to do the practical part stemmed from this dumb practice. Then again... I didn't take her for someone who'd want to mess with thoughts and what thoughts were.
I took a brief moment to think about what Marco studied in. It was also a scientific field, but I just couldn't remember what it was. It, too, was something strange like that. A sudden flash of inspiration hit me. That's right! A was a researcher too. The old man shared a tangential link to those two. He was a researcher, which sounds scientific, and there was E and Marco both studying in that stuff...
Marco, A and E were related to science in some way. Marco, E, Ray and I were related by the fact we belonged in the university. Jasmine and I were related because we knew each other. That left the twins. I only needed to ask the twins if they shared any sort of link with Jasmine. That would have to wait until we were all in the same place, so... the lounge was my next destination. For now, I took E's hand to pull her into the lobby.
We're done here? Amazing. It was remarkably fast, S. To be able to finish so quickly...
I'd like to think I'd need quite a while before I finish, but anyway...
I was thankful she couldn't hear me as we took the train back to our hangout spot.
Unfortunately, the noise I just heard robbed me of all my optimism. A sense of dread slowly spread throughout my body. Was that... a gunshot?
BGM: Advancing Shadows
I imagined Jasmine against a wall, immobile and dying. What if Agnos got shot? All possibilities of learning the truth about him would evaporate. I clenched my teeth. It was too early to say. Instead, I yanked E to the metallic wall. I was hearing some footsteps from above.
What... what is it?
She asked. She spoke. She made noise. I had to stop that, so I put my hand over her mouth. The girl understood quickly and she ceased any sort of movement. The train betrayed me when its little chime rang out and it drove away. Whoever was upstairs would know there was someone downstairs now.
The footsteps stopped. Instead there was silence... other than some grumbling or moaning. Another gunshot followed. The person hadn't been on their way to leave the room yet. Perhaps they didnt realize someone came by the station. The element of surprise may have still been on my side. Finally, those heavy steps came closer and closer. The staircase creaked as the steps grew louder. The footwear was probably a pair of boots.
I recognized that voice and those boots: they both belonged to Agnos. That sense of dread from earlier grew tenfold. If he was the one with a gun, then that meant the others... I couldn't panic here. If he found me here, he might not like me learning he'd shot in cold blood. I held my breath and counted the steps. One, two, three, four...
BGM: Accelerated Scuffle
Either I got luck or he wasn't as strong as I thought he was. Perhaps it was merely our age difference at play. Sadly, my luck wouldn't hold out; while he dropped the gun to the ground, he did something else too. He punched me in the face.
Are you afraid due to the gun? I'm simply ensuring that whoever is behind this game is removed from it. As there was no conclusive evidence, I'm removing everyone who isn't me.
I wasn't a very good fighter, but he was still an old man so... I took my chance. I lunged at his legs and quickly got him down to the ground again. This time, he was dazed by the hit so I reached over and grabbed the revolver.
It didn't take long for us both to make it up the stairs. I couldn't explain to her what was happening. I had no time for any of this. All I knew is that I needed to clear our names of this business. Once Agnos would realize that we weren't Smiley or his accomplice, then he would have no reason to pursue us.
BGM: Abyssal Snarl
No, there were four. All of them had been shot square in the head. With four deaths, I assumed the revolver had used four of its six shots. The four dead were... Ray... one of the twins... and...
I would never talk to Jasmine again. I'd never hear another of Marco's stupid jokes. I hated those jokes, but...this... this I hated more. I hated it far more.
I couldn't move. I felt like solid rock. E was still standing next to me and she didn't know what to do. Clearly, the girl was scared, but I couldn't move. I was stuck in a strange state. Like solid rock. Cold, weathered by time, full of heavy nothing.
This girl who had been nothing but nice to me... she was like a goddess coming down from above.
Despite doing nothing, her mere presence brought me back to reality. That's right. She was still alive and so was I. I took a long breath after having forgotten to do so for a short eternity. I wanted to mourn my friends, but...
The bodies end here... no more.
BGM: Accelerated Scuffle
But I was resolute now. For the first time I decided that... enough was enough. I wouldn't let Agnos kill more people. I grabbed E's hand. I couldn't bring her to danger again, but leaving her in a room full of dead bodies was not my idea of a good date either. She was safer with me.
This girl was the most precious person, as a fellow survivor.
Where was he? I stepped into the station. He wasn't on the other side, nor was he on the rails. He wasn't waiting for me. I only noticed where he was as a small clank echoed from afar. The station had two ends leading into a small, dark maintenance tunnel. The gates were locked, preventing our access to them. However, the old man disappeared inside one of those tunnels. And he didn't come out.
In the darkness, he would have the advantage. I couldn't afford that. I cursed and went back into the lobby.
Just as quickly as before, I made my way out of the lobby. I couldn't see if Agnos was capable of seeing me on this side. Just in case, if he could, I flipped the bird in his direction. That'd teach him.
Simon this is literally the least appropriate time to do this kind of shit YOUR FRIENDS JUST DIED
It didn't have to take anybody else at the moment, so it could pick me up quickly. I looked around the station for any signs of something capable of picking up our presence, but I didn't see anything. Once again pulling E by the hand, I stepped into the train with her. Once she sat down, I started writing.
What is happening? Please, let me know!
I was getting to it, but it would take a while. As I wrote, the chime rang out. As I wrote, the train drove off.
The girl looked positively mortified. I couldn't blame her. I elaborated upon the fact I only saw one twin, so perhaps the other was safe.
Do you know which one died? I was told they were identical, so perhaps not... Oh, no... I didn't think all of this would get so bloody. This is truly, terribly horrible...
We need to find a way to leave this hell as fast as possible...
She was right. This was hell. I couldn't stop thinking about the bodies, dead, cold on the floor which was equally as cold. I had to stop thinking about it. That was... then. This is now.
BGM: Ambient Strain
Speaking of E... I had to ask her what her name was. I decided to keep that as an incentive to escape. I would only do it once I would be safe and sound, outside. The train left behind me after I contemplated that idea. The first order of business was clearing up my name, finding out that fucking password and confronting A once I'd amassed all the shitty information he wanted me to find. I held my head in a hand. I started swearing in my thoughts. I needed to calm down.
Pulling E along, I stepped into the lobby... then went up the stairs...
Hah... I'm not gonna get any answers here, am I? Maybe I should just think about it. What about you, E? Oh, you have an idea? Sure, that'll work! Here, I'll let you have a crack at it. Feel free to use those eyes to see what the problem is and your ears to hear what I'm saying. Oh, I forgot, you can't see or hear anything. Oops, my bad. Fuck! I'm going insane.
This is most likely the worst thing he's going to say in this game (barring any new additions that weren't in the original), so I guess it's good we're ripping that bandage off now, but Christ!
I didn't mean to turn her disabilities into a mockery. I was just...stressed out. I was frustrated at the situation, not at her. She was difficult to deal with. If only she could see and hear... I communicated with her some of my ideas, asking her if she had some.
But first, let's think about Smiley a little. From what you said, if we're pulling from the pool of those who are still alive, Smiley is anyone between Agnos, myself, you, or the other twin. Otherwise, Smiley is already, um, dead. I don't think you've seen the other twin yet, so for now, let's consider them as a possible threat. It's sad to say, but...
BGM: Ascertaining Speech
Jasmine had gone with Ray, G had gone with Marco, and Agnos had gone with H. Thinking about it that way, the bodies that turned up were Jasmine, Ray, and Marco. There was also a twin, but it was either G or H. Agnos had gone with H, so it's possible he would've killed her to. But then where was G?
No, this didn't add up. If Agnos killed H, then he could've done so many, many times. He could've done it in the room they explored. He could've done it on the station outside that room. In the lobby, too. That meant... that twin was probably G, who had gone with Marco. If all the teams came back, then why didn't we see H was simple: Agnos killed her, but not at the lounge.
You think so? If she's already dead, then we can't manage to prove she's Smiley... and this means we're the last ones alive. You said we were at a station, right?
She took a small pause, unsure of what she should say about it, but eventually she made her question clearer.
If this station has already been explored, couldn't we just leave? Each of them has an exit, correct?
BGM: Advancing Shadows
A cold shiver ran up my spine at that realization. Maybe the hand-communication was just for show. Maybe she had absolutely no idea of what the rules really were, or perhaps he purposely avoided telling her. As if he had intended her to die at some point due to a mistake like that.
Damn it! I can't even tell you because there's barely any paper left. Fuck!
I have to be careful what info I share with her. Goddammit... I guess I don't have a choice, I'll do a quick cursory look over this room.
My presence upstairs with E was, in a way, a deterrent. He was aware of the rules and how we couldn't step in the lobby or beyond with more than two people at once.
On the other side of the room was a prison leading to a few lockers. I searched that quickly, but nothing jumped out at me. Back on this side, there was... a safe. It was already unlocked when I checked. I opened it and on the back I saw a message. It made little sense, and was clearly used for whatever puzzle was in this room. Otherwise, this safe was empty.
This safe... it's a safe. It could keep things safe. Agnos isn't stupid. He's very cunning. Maybe he could even trick me again and steal back this gun. If that happens...if that happens...fuck.
At least Simon acknowledges he's very easy to manipulate
I didn't find a password in this room, I didn't find a clue about Smiley, I didn't find anything really relevant, but I could get rid of this gun. Despite my resolve, I knew that I would shake in my boots when the time came to use it. This was dangerous for me, not for anyone else. I didn't even know how to operate it.
Time was ticking down, too. Agnos would find us sooner or later. I already weighed my options.
If only I had hints about the password... but until I did so, my options were limited...
Next time, we get our first ending of Head AS Code.