Part 21: bAStard
The next branch is down the line from the one we just finished. As a reminder...
Instead of staying at the lounge, Simon goes with A for a walk to one of the previous stations the groups had visited: specifically, the lab that he and Jasmine had just finished exploring. While heading there, A tells Simon a little more about himself- on the surface, he works in a research department at a large scale corporation, but that is just a cover for his actual job: he works as some kind of internal auditor whose job is to root out unethical activities and deal with them firsthand. He states that he, somehow, entered the Dating Game of his own volition to take Smiley down, and, while refusing to give specifics due to confidentiality agreements, implies that the facility they find themselves in may at one time have been used for something his company was involved with.
A also shows a remote he found in a previous station, and states that he believes it is the key to the ninth person they are meant to find. He asks Simon to work with him directly to find a way to open the locked door so that he can do his job and the group can escape. As a show of good faith, he gives Simon the remote, stating that he wants Simon to keep an eye out for anything that the remote might work on. Simon agrees, on the condition that should an escape route present itself while they continue to investigate, that they'll take that route instead. When they return to the lounge, the group partners up again to explore some of the remaining stations. Because Simon has the pens and slips of paper, A volunteers him to take E and go in the opposite direction from the group, so they can check the previously solved stations for any sign that a ninth person might be actively evading them. They do so, and eventually find themselves at a new station- a church.
After solving the puzzle at the church, the two make their way back to the lounge, only to hear gunshots from the upstairs room. A is revealed to be the shooter, and after a brief scuffle, Simon manages to disarm him and run up the stairs with E in tow. The rest of the group are now dead, and the two manage to evade A by entering a train from the other side of the station. They stop at the station with the gymnasium in it, which has a wall safe that has been left open. Simon is torn with what to do with the gun he stole from A (whose real name has been revealed to be Agnos), and last time, he decided to keep it with himself so he can confront A directly. This time, though, we're going to take a different option!
BGM: Advancing Shadows
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. I could confront Agnos with the gun or leave the gun here and investigate a way to leave otherwise. The third option was also the mega-door I could unlock with the remote, but.. I still didn't know the password for it.
If only I had hints about the password... but until I did so, my options were limited.
I'm sure we'll be fine without this.
BGM: Ambient Strain
I threw the gun into the safe, and locked it up. When I closed it, even I couldn't open it anymore- I didn't know the combination. At least, Agnos couldn't use it against me, and if it came to it, I would simply let him know where it was as a bargaining chip while I made my escape. Perhaps leaving it here was in my best interests?
I believed that, if I made my interest in learning how to leave apparent, it would make it clear I wasn't Smiley or his accomplice. If I was, then I could've just gone. I would know how to leave if I was Smiley, but I didn't know, so I couldn't be.
Yeah... this is as sound a plan as I can make it. It's not about convincing him that I'm not Smiley, but that I can't be Smiley.
This might have worked for me, but what about E? I glanced at the girl. She was still oblivious to most events happening. If she was Smiley, why would she hide her senses like that? This was most likely a good point to bring up when I'd eventually meet Agnos again.
Okay, Simon. You can do this. It's just an old man. Convince him you're fine, get your ticket out, and leave with E while he does whatever here.
Using some of my last bits of paper, I notified E that I was going to find Agnos. She vehemently opposed me doing such.
Don't do that, it's too dangerous! We should just leave right now.
I used another one of my last sheets of paper to explain to her that we couldn't leave. There were scanner gates, and they would detect if we didn't find the ninth person.
Oh... that does sound dangerous, but is it worth taking the chance? I'll follow you anyway.
BGM: Advancing Shadows
It was minutes later that I realized I'd been waiting in vain: he wasn't coming with the train- he was at this station already. He was upstairs! Some footsteps made it clearer. He'd been immobile for a while, most likely trying to open the door but failing. Without the remote, which I still held, he most likely stood no chance.
Unfortunately, that was also my last paper. I could no longer communicate with her.
Understood. I'll stay down here, don't worry!
Silently, I left her side and went to the lobby. I was getting really tired of these rooms, staircases, and the metro too. After this, I wouldn't take it anymore. Once this was done, I'd get my own fucking car and use it. It was probably worse for the environment, but at least no one would abduct me in a car.
...No, it was probably more secure to take the public transport. Fuck it! I still wanted to never have anything to do with this place.
I could tell he'd amassed a lot of tools to do so, some of which I didn't even know the purpose of.
BGM: Abyssal Snarl
What tells you I'll hand over the remote?
My eyes trailed over the many chemicals he'd tried to mix. The place really looked like a science lab now; it was as if he believed some mixture would dissolve the door, but so far he'd made no headway. I could also tell my question angered him a little. Good. If I could tick off that piece of shit a little, it might distract him from outsmarting me.
I am completely aware we have not been getting along as much as we should've. Instead of trusting each other then, I thought it best if we didn't, at least, distrust each other.
I am still a knight of justice, but would you stand with those who sinned? Surely you must tell that while I have done something horrible, it was necessary.
None of it was necessary. I already figured out some things, and I was going to share them before you put a bullet in my friends' heads.
How do we leave? I'm not Smiley. E's not Smiley. If she was Smiley, why would she block her senses? If I was Smiley, why did I not run away? We don't know how to leave, we don't know what to do. We're not Smiley, get it already!
He listened intently.
How about we do a trade? I need the remote, and you, apparently, need what I know, because I have understood how to leave this place.
I wasn't sure about this. He might've be bluffing.
I'll hand over the remote after you tell me, then. I won't need it after I can leave this place, so I have no intention or need to double cross you. Is that okay?
After all, why should I trust that you would hold to your word after you've left me on the station, and without my tool? Where is it, anyway?
I'll even tell you that. I'll tell you where it is first, then you tell me how to leave, and then I'll give you the remote, okay?
You drive a hard bargain. Very well.
I didn't know if I could trust him still, but just telling him where the gun was would be enough. He couldn't open the safe, anyway. He killed the people who were able to open that safe.
BGM: Accelerated Scuffle
But as soon as I spoke, he took off in a sprint. Damn it! Did he get me?! I quickly launched after him and barreled down the stairs.
Hey, we had a deal! You piece of shit, what are you doing?
Simply what I must, young man! I do not actually care for the gun, so I will make you give me the remote!
He was holding her hostage.
I clenched my teeth. I ran out of bargaining chips, and now he had everything in his hand. I felt sorry for E. This was my fault, completely my fault.
I should've known you would do something without honor like this. Doesn't it mean anything to be a knight of justice or what?
The most important thing is to get real justice, and if you are Smiley, then you will die. But, I wish to secure that remote, and see what's beyond the room first, so give it over to me.
He smirked while E trembled, scared witless.
W-Who's this..? Please anyone, help!
I guess I have no choice... is that fine for a deal?
He released E to grab the remote. At least he was true to his word.
I believe your intention in asking me about the way to leave is genuine. However, I cannot say that I have sufficient proof to think otherwise of E. For all I know, she was the one behind all of this.
No, she's not! Her senses are all hidden, and...
It is a lie I came up with when she arrived here with me. I told her to play along, and to act disabled. It would make her look inoffensive, and she wouldn't be in harm's way.
Now that I no longer can trust her...
BGM: Advancing Shadows
Suddenly, his hands rose and he shoved her right in the stomach with remarkable strength. The girl held it with her hands, her breath cut short. I lunged forward while screaming.
No, E! What the fuck?! You piece of shit!!
She fell to the tracks and flailed wildly as the current coursed through her. Within a single moment, the girl had completely expired. She was dead. Even after she died, her body's spasms didn't stop as the current continued to course through her. I watched in horror.
You lying sack of crap! You didn't tell me how to leave, and you harmed E anyway!
All that is important is my mission, and you will not interrupt it. You and I are both as insignificant to humanity as the far-away stars in the night's sky.
Nonsense! You killed an innocent because you couldn't trust them! You're the one with the issues!
Believe what you want.
He disappeared into the lobby. I needed to punish him. But how? The train wasn't coming yet. Maybe if I...
BGM: Abyssal Snarl
It wasn't possible. I tried for a few minutes, but all I could reach without getting struck by a shock was her collar. By the time I managed to lift her up and to the side of the station, my hands were charred by the electricity. I didn't care, though. The pain was nothing. All there was in my mind was rage and vengeance. He killed my friends. He killed the twins. He killed Ray. He even killed E, and now I was going to kill him.
You're a dead man, Agnos.
Agnos, it's the pizza deliveryman! Special delivery just for you! It's justice in a package, you fucking asshole!
I walked up the stairs, screaming my one-liner with pride. When he saw me carrying E inside, he panicked.
Our collars were already beeping.
I don't care.
I watched him with a certain satisfaction, as both our heads fell to the ground. I even managed to work up a tiny bit of muscle to smile. Or perhaps I only imagined it. That bastard could find solace in the fact true justice had been served.
Hey, who could've predicted not having any kind of defense while confronting a murderer was going to go badly! As for Agnos' claims.... well, he's kinda proven himself to be very untrustworthy, so I'd take anything he says with a grain of salt.
No vote this time, since there's only two options anyway; next update we'll just finish up this side of the flowchart.