Part 28: The Choice
We follow Shock backstage and he immediately assaults us with a question. Since Rabies fancies themselves a psychologist, we'll try to probe Shock's inner demons.
Tell me about your mother, Shock.
Well, we've all lost a friend or two to one of Max's misadventures.
When you tour with people, you grow so close to them. You become inseparable.
And you become more than just friends. When you perform on stage, it's almost like you're one entity. Seamless and perfect.
To have it taken away...? I've lost a part of me I'll never get back.
I can't perform like that again. Because I won't have them by my side.
Shock please stop marinating your brain with god-knows-what preservatives they stuffed into that slurry.
No replacement will ever fill that void.
So what can I do...? If I can never perform like I want to...That's what I've been struggling with.
And I think I've finally decided.
I'm going to resign. Quit the business. It's really my only course of action.
This has come completely out of left field and there's literally nothing that's happened in the last 24 hours to Shock that might make him rethink his music career.
I'd rather honor their memory. Plus, it would make me happy.
If I stayed in the business, I'd have to perform with someone else. I mean, I'd need to find a replacement for Klace...
And a replacement for Rocker, too.
Klace's pants were certainly expendable!
People move on in show business every day. I don't think that's something I can do.
A week from now, Singe will already have a new set of idols, and a new tour planned.
But me...? I just couldn't do that. They meant too much to me, you know?
And they meant a lot to the world, too. So I think I'm going to step down.
This top option probably involves driving Singe more insane and ruining Dazz's career, and Rabies is all for that.
You be grateful Rabies is here as your only advisor and confidant!
I was thinking about my next career choice. Something like a philanthropist...I've only ever wanted the best for others.
And I'd have the time and money for it...I make more than enough with my royalties.
In fact, I could retire and do nothing. But that would seem like a waste. I wouldn't be making a difference at all.
I feel like Klace and Rocker would be more proud of me if I went and caused change...
But then the question remains...What kind of change?
Shock will probably start a charity for underprivileged children who don't have a single dumb glowing tattoo to their name.
Actually, I think--
He stops himself before he continues to speak.
Sorry, I just got a little excited. I didn't mean to ramble on like that.
No need to apologize. I have to say, this whole situation is odd. I expected Shock to be hostile, and angry.
But to see him planning his future? Is he trying to move on -- or is this just escapism?
It's hard to tell when you're dealing with grief. He could be making an actual effort to move on...Or he could be pushing it aside in denial. I think I know what it is, though...
It hasn't even been 24 hours since Klace's death. I don't think it's possible to move on that fast.
I just love this recurring theme that Rabies has the attention span of a walnut.
You must have zoned out. I wanted to talk to you about Acheron.
Oh, he -does- want to talk about Acheron? Perhaps I spoke too early beforehand. He must still be mad about what happened.
Let me get this out of the way first. This isn't because he overpowered me.
I have some genuine concerns. I've just kept them quiet so far. I hope that I can trust you with this.
People spill their secrets to Rabies. It remains to be seen if Rabies can actually keep a secret.
I nod affirmatively. He doesn't have to sorry about me betraying his trust. Whatever he told me would stay between us.
He's a very suspicious man, you know? Some things just don't add up to me.
Yeah, it's like their lives were written by a guy who only consumes anime and bad video games.
The killer also has to be somebody here. Rocker's death proved that fact.
And I don't know how you feel, but...It felt like he gave me a death threat. Back in front of Singe's office, I mean.
He hinted that he'd let me die if I didn't stay on his good side -- which is horrible.
Well, that -did- happen...But I don't think Acheron is the killer. He's always been truthful, as far as I can tell.
Look if Acheron has lost his cool in the past and killed a few paparazzi, that doesn't count.
Military intelligence just kind of lax nowadays, ain't it?
But he refuses to talk about it publicly. And anything that was promising, has since been taken offline. He'd hiding something.
What would he want to hide, though? It would have to be something shameful. Something that affects his reputation.
What else could that be -- but a failure? Turns out he's not as perfect as we thought.
In fact, there's lots of stuff about him that just leads to long dead web pages. It takes power to do that en masse.
We've long since established that the dev can't write, but I don't think it would be that tall an order to make it where the main character is actually consistent about trusting people. In some scenes Rabies just takes what people say at face value, whereas here he's skeptical for some reason.
It goes deeper. Trust me.
How did Shock managed to internet-detective this out in the less-than-24-hour timespan that Klace died and Acheron was hired?
Maxine Armstrong was also present. Of course, she said she was just visiting. That she didn't have any "business" there.
but she must have been lying. That week -- there were explosions. The details of that are also hard to find.
But it was all in the same small village. The same one that Acheron was in as well. I'm not grasping at straws.
With Maxine "Lockheed-Martin is a Bunch of Wusses" Armstrong, everything ends in explosions!
But it hasn't happened here yet...So right now, we're one step ahead.
It's all too connected to mean nothing. Everything about the village during that span of time is also impossible to find...
I'm guessing Acheron would be the straight man of this murder comedy duet.
After that, he remains silent. I'm left to try and absorb what he's just told me.
It can't be coincidence that they are both here...But why were the details of Africa so hard to find? I'm assuming that Shock is truthful, of course. I doubt he's the type to make this up.
But doesn't Acheron hate Armstrong with a passion? He also had no idea that Maxine was involved here.
I like how the way this sentence is written just implies that Shock only wants Singe out of the building.
The bottom line is, we're not safe here. We need to leave Tokyo. I don't care where else we go...
My mind flashes back to the earlier meeting with Singe. How we shouldn't make any rash movements.
We don't want to provoke them into killing us. Or I guess in this case, setting off the weapons.
It's kind of stupid, though. Acheron might talk some sense into him. That is unless hes involved in this mess...Now I'm not sure what to think.
We can totally trust in Acheron, voted Bodyguard Quarterly's Most Reliable Guard!*
*(Claim not valid in most countries).
Nor can we trust Armstrong Incorporated. We need to ensure our own protection. Not place it in others, or in armaments.
Like, away as in away from the roof?
Please, please note the text in the top left. Is Klace a fucking robot?
I'm not sure what to say. But he thinks that Acheron is hiding failures. I wouldn't believe it, but...Rocker is already dead. Only after a few hours.
So I have proof of his failure right in front of me. However, he's been acting up since the press conference. Perhaps Armstrong's involvement affects his judgement? This case got personal for him very fast.
But then there's the issue of Africa...Him and Max both in the same village, with explosions. And now they're both here -- with bombs, too. It doesn't appear to me as pure coincidence.
And it's clear that Shock wants a response -now-. I don't blame him, with how fast things have happened.
But I need to think carefully. There's always the chance he's just vindictive. Rocker did die under Acheron's watch. And Acheron did make Shock out to be pretty weak. What do I tell him...?
Let's lynch Acheron!
Rabies, that darn contrarian.
You have no idea how happy that makes me. I was worried you'd be stubborn about this.
More and more people side with Singe. But between the both of us, I think his stress is affecting his decision making.
The Singe I know would never sit and wait. He'd be proactive -- take the initiative. He's definitely not his usual self.
And since his ability to make the correct decisions is clouded -- I have to assume that hiring Acheron was not the best one.
I am like 70 percent sure this exact line has been used earlier in the game, but I can't place where.
How are we going to get rid of him? We both know how strong he is...
That's a pretty big extreme to jump to. I let him know we shouldn't "get rid of him". Instead, we should dig a little deeper. Figure out his past -- if he's lying or not.
Singe is the type to act off of evidence, not hunches. I haven't know him for that long, but I know this much. We need to start our way at the bottom, and work up.
If his past also ties into Armstrong. Then perhaps we can even solve the mystery at large. And maybe -- just maybe we would reveal the killer.
But if we can't find anything, and Acheron isn't lying? Well -- we won't lose mutch. So it's not a big gamble. We'll just have to keep our doubts secret from him.
We're thinking in such one-dimensional, not-hitting-him-over-the-head-with-a-folding-chair terms.
Before I can even think of responding, my phone rings. I feel as if my heart stops beating. Another text message...? I hoped they would stop. It feels like I've woken up from a nightmare.
I raise a finger, asking him to hold on. He stops talking, giving me time to check.
I go through a brief period of hoping it's Singe. Or Rook. Or Kila. But this hope is short lived.
Sure thang, Max!
I'm not sure what they could possibly mean...What was about to begin...? I stop and think. Last time I got a text, they said a friend would die...
I instantly put my phone back in my pocket. I storm out of the room without saying a word.
But honestly? I wouldn't know what to say. I assume this person wants me alone.
And so, I leave chock by himself, and go to the lobby. Into certain danger, for both myself -- and my friends.
So a bit earlier, Rook visits Max who totally isn't planning to kill him.
Why do I even bother being punctual? As usual -- I'm the one left waiting around.
Stop playing Tetris Rook, this is important!
You think she says this in the same way Hannibal Lecter greeted Clarice?
You shouldn't pop up on people like that! Why would you want to scare somebody? You know what kind of situation we're in.
Pop up on people? It's not like that. You were just so engrossed in your tablet that you didn't notice me approaching...
I can't be blamed for that.
But do tell me...How is that tablet treating you today? Does "he" have anything interesting to say?
What do you mean, "he"?
Don't play stupid, Rook. I hate how everyone here is full of lies.
Every goddamn person in this game is a freak. No exceptions.
I mean, you are -- but...You've done a good job of hiding it.
I don't know what you're talking about.
Of course you don't.
Hey, give that back!
Max is already challenging Shock for his position of Dunks on Shit Characters Champion.
Maxine finds Rook's taste in porn hilarious.
You chat with "him" all day...
This is impossible, as someone would want to chat with Rook.
And almost all night, too. You shut the world out, just for "him"...But why don't you seek something more real?
Words on a screen can only do you so much. It's affecting the way your friends see you. If that's something you'd even call him.
As we all know, addictions can be costly. I've talked to the people you work with. They mention your tablet more than you.
Max. I'm asking nicely.
Wow -- you confide a lot in this guy. He seems so full of knowledge, too. Let me try asking him something.
Whatever you do Max, don't read his Popeye fanfiction.
Wow, he responded instantly. And with such detail! Faster than any living being could.
Considering Max's track record, she could easily shoot him right here and claim self-defense.
You mean the character we've never met and the other character with the fake writing awards?
He must know all your dirty little secrets.
Max, I've had enough!
Pretty quick to anger, isn't he...?
Oh well. I was going to restrain him anyway. Pretty fun to see him all rustled, though.
If that's his trigger, he must have all sorts of nasty little secrets. Heh...
What kind of brand you think Rook owns? What's generally agreed to be the chode brand?
Though I guess it isn't really my business.
I was just having a little fun. None of this will be permanent anyway.
Why is the writer telling us this? It should be kind of obvious that Rook's not going to be aware when time's stopped.
The circumstances of Africa were definitely a little different. But I guess I have to make do with what we have, and compromise.
Acheron will know what I'm up to.
And what better way to get comfortable than with Armstrong-brand Stranglemaster Nylon? Perfect for tying up your enemies or if you just can't take it anymore!
Snug as a Rook in a Arm Dealer's trap.
Hmm, I suppose I'll be generous...
Max showing sentiment? Don't tell me she's getting soft on us.
You're lucky you're just a means to an end. I was tempted to dump this in the water.
But that's something you'll need to do on your own, Rook. I can't do it for you...
Considering this game feels like it was written by an alien, no.
Oh well. Time for the finishing touch.
She's named this line of explosives "Mr. President".
I hope this doesn't scare him too much.
Armstrong Bombs: So easy to arm, a child could do it. Because they're supposed to!
Honestly Rook, you act like this is the first time you've been strapped to a chair.
Hey, let me go!
I can't do that. I have an important plan for you, Rook.
I don't think Rook can afford your services, Max. He isn't rich and he probably isn't a rogue nation.
You've been wasting your life. On that tablet, in your own little fantasy.
And you're defensive enough to attack me...But it's odd -- you passed out right after. Physical exertion must elude you, Rook.
I had no choice but to restrain you.
This bomb however, is another story.
Max is quite proud of the fact that her bombs can detect fear.
Hey now, don't struggle too much. You wouldn't want to set it off in error.
Since she was a little girl, Max has always wanted to be a Batman villain.
Trust me Rook, I'm not going to hurt you. And you'll be free to go shortly. That is, if things go in your favor.
I'm going to tell some of your friends that you're here, waiting to be saved. They also know the disarming codes.
It's pretty simple. They can come and save you if they want to.
Hmm...I don't want to spoil the surprise. But there's a chance they might not come. Because they may like someone more than you.
This is why your tablet is so important. You've spent so long immersed in that silly little thing, ignoring those around you...
Perhaps now, they will ignore -you-.
I'm sure this sounded way cooler in Klace's head, but actually seeing it makes me think it's a line from a parody.
We are victim to our own actions and words.
We can conveniently choose to blame others. But at the end of the day, it's our fault.
You chose to bond with that tablet instead of those who were currently around you. And now, that choice of yours may haunt you.
Perhaps if you weren't so obsessed with that thing, they would be rushing to save you...
But now, the fact that they need to choose? It makes this all the more interesting.
Sick with power!
Blaming me, of course. If you weren't such an introvert you'd be relaxing right now in confidence...
But now you've come to realize. What you've been doing is harmful.
But just -how- harmful? Well that is up to the strength of the bonds you have made. They decide your fate.
Oh -- and if you even mention my name? I'll set off every single weapon here. So don't try and play a hero, Rook.
Now, if you'll excuse me...I have to go help contestant number two.
The circus is in town, and Max is the ringleader.
I feel like Inumi gets yelled at a lot, and he deserves every bit of it.
Be a shame if some random arms merchant grabbed Inumi and threw him into a woodchipper. YOU HEAR THAT, MAX? I'M MEETING YOU HALFWAY!
What are you doing...?
Has Rabies even actually directly spoken to Inumi before? Why would he give a shit about him?
But I should learn to do it myself. I have to grow up some day, right?
Other people can't always be there...Not even bro. So I should learn! That way I can do it when I'm alone.
I'm going to share something with you guys. While every character in this game is really cringy, there's something about Inumi in particular that makes me deeply uncomfortable. Probably has something to do with him having the mind of a child but still wearing a "fuck me" fishnet shirt with exposed abs.
Tell me about the rabbits, Inumi.
This gives me the image of Klace requiring a cheat sheet when the interviewer asked him shit like the name of his band.
The idea of Inumi being a young adult but still acting like he's fucking 6 is hilariously pathetic.
I still have to do school on the tour. So my bro would help me with homework.
Why couldn't Max find a reason to strap this one to a chair?
Wow. Definitely jumping from topic to topic. But I guess we were all like that at a young age.
I still feel bad that I'm not good at math. Acheron had to answer that one problem...
I honestly don't blame people for disliking math, but I guarantee you that the writer finds Math hard because he's very, very dumb.
Really...? That's interesting. I'm confused with how school works...
If you're bad at math, they think you're not trying hard enough. They push you...Sometimes they even say you're not smart.
But if you're bad at writing stories or at art, you get a slap on the wrist..."Some people are born artists," they say.
What if I'm born to be bad at math?
I shrug. I guess he has a point. Different subjects are treated in different ways.
But anways, I guess--
And again with the weird "this conversation was optimal" thing. I've played through this game once before, and I'll tell you right now that this is a new addition. Was Klace getting complaints from players that it wasn't obvious that they were on the true ending path?
I'm sure Rocker will be thrilled to hear that.
I notice that he has his phone in his hand. Something I've rarely seen him holding. When he sees that I notice, he puts it into his pocket.
Uh...So how are you two doing?
I'm doing okay. But I wish my bro was here with me.
Surely you do. I apologize for bringing it up. I didn't mean to open any wounds.
I don't have any wounds, it's okay.
Err--It was a metaphor, Inumi.
I see. What's a--
Again, he gets interrupted. But this time by a high-pitched screeching noise. Feedback from the lobby's speaker system?
Inumi quickly covers his ears in fright. I look at Acheron -- he seems unaffected. That is, until the screeching subsides.
The cliche lobby music that was playing doesn't return. Instead -- a voice greets us, and chills me to my core.
The voice is warped -- and heavily modified. I can't tell who it is. Or their gender. But I know one thing without any doubt. This is the person who was texting me.
And by extension -- The Midnight Killer. The murderer of Klace. And Rocker, too. Whatever plan they had; it was being put into motion.
I clench my fists, and look to Acheron. He looks scared. I've never seen him like this before. Inumi inches closer to me, as if to seek safety.
You all need to stay where you are. I only have business with these three.
So this is being broadcast through the entire building? I guess they aren't dealing with just me anymore...
Show yourself. Don't hide like a coward.
Not yet, Acheron. I need to keep a distance for now. In case there's any disobedience.
You three are to do exactly as I say. Any deviation from my course will result in the detonation of every weapon here...
And if you don't believe me? Just try me. I don't think it's worth it.
A gamble shouldn't decide your fates today. Nor that fate of everybody in the building.
Could someone please knock Inumi out so the adults can talk?
You have our compliance. Please state your terms. We wish for no more death today.
It pains me to say this, but...Your wish will go unfulfilled.
You only have the ability to mitigate. Damages will still be caused. So I advise that you listen carefully.
Acheron looks at me, showing signs of regret. Like he's failed to stop this from happening. I give him a look of confidence. We can take this head on. We won't let them win.
I need to talk with Rabies. This situation pertains to him the most.
As soon as you arrived in Tokyo...You met two people. Rook and Kila. You spent the day getting to know them.
That is -- until things went to hell.
I nod, unsure of where this may be going. But filled with fright at all of the possible scenarios.
Glad Max agrees that whole adventure was pointless.
You need to learn about consequence. Something you haven't yet faced. And something you must come to understand.
Especially if you wish to "save" anything. You'll never do that without sacrifice. This is the first rule I will teach you.
Granted, it's not totally outlandish that Endymion and Konrad somehow fucked up badly enough that they breached the dimensional barrier and told Max who Rabies was.
And there is a second rule you must learn. But that will come soon, so don't worry.
I'm going to present you with a choice. You must make this decision on your own. Acheron and Inumi -cannot- influence you.
In fact, they must remain silent. If they speak? I'm sure you know the drill.
I look at Acheron. And then at Inumi. They both give me a nod. I gulp audibly. I ask them to continue. To tell me what they want.
It's not about what I want. It's about what -you- want. So please, listen very carefully.
With a present from Max!
Also presumably hogtied, but we were never shown that scene for some reason!
It's my birthday and Christmas all rolled into one!
What!? No, that can't be...
I said to listen carefully. I'll let you save one of them. But the other will be left to die.
They both expect you to save them. This is part of the second rule. You won't be able to save everybody.
The road to salvation is paved with loss. And this is something you must understand.
So, who will it be? The tablet addicted lackey? Or the overzealous super-fan?
I'm sure they both have redeeming qualities. As well as a few faults of their own. However, will those faults condemn them?
The choice lies with you.
Lotta help you guys are!
Are you stressed? That's cute. How can you be trusted with the fate of a world when you can't even handle this...?
I tremble in anger. My fists clenched violently.
Oh, and don't even think about saving both. If you split up, all of the weapons go off. You need to travel as a group from now on.
You will all go to the room of the person you wish to save. If anybody else tries to be a hero and save the other hostage?
Well, there will be no hereos here...Only the three in the lobby may move. And it will be at Rabies's instruction.
I mean, Max does probably find this whole thing hilarious.
Okay, now I'm getting bored. Give me a name -- and now. Remember. It's one of them, or all of you.
I take deep breaths. I close my eyes. They have us in a checkmate. I have to choose. But how can I possibly be expected to choose who dies? I tremble in the face of this impossible decision.
That's right, folks, we have to choose who we blow up! And regardless of Max's wishes, you people will very much have a say on deciding who Rabies picks to die!
IT'S VOTING TIME! Who dies: Rook or Kila? And before you ask, we can't kill them both!