Part 34: Offscreen Downfall
I'm starting to think Rabies might have a problem with the sodas.
If Klace knows what's good for him, he should never visit a casino.
Moving pictures with sound? Witchcraft! Burn the witch boxes!
All wars, all conflict stopped because a sweepstakes involving a soda started.
Whatever you do, don't choose the Fanta. That's how you become a Nazi.
Wait, this contest is apparently a worldwide fucking phenomenon, but nobody even knows who they'll get to meet if they win?
So Rabies does know they'll meet Klace. What was the point of the previous paragraph? Why not say they'll meet Klace first and then wonder what other people they'll get to meet?
But let's not forget about the people behind the scenes. There were those involved that no one even knew about. Not everyone liked the limelight, after all.
A slight pain starts radiating in my head. I hate headaches -- I've been getting them a lot lately. I do my best to push it aside as I arrive at the cooler.
But when I get there, I notice they're sold out. Did somebody come and buy out their supply?
I like how Rabies' first instinct when finding a place is out of soda is to harass the clerk.
The clerk shrugs and says that they have lots. He tells me that I must've overlooked them. That's weird -- I'm not the type to do that.
The headache gets more intense, and I stumble. I press myself against a counter for support. The clerk asks if I'm okay, and I signal that I'm fine.
I look at the TV once again -- the report has changed. Now they're talking about murders or something.
It's a shame, but that's the kind of world we live in. Maybe we were using this contest to mask our flaws.
Why doesn't Rabies just choose a different store? It's a mall; it's not like sodas are hard to come by.
Rabies apparently has a history of headaches, which would be a useful character trait to know if it was ever relevant before this point.
You didn't expect a little blunt force to affect Rabies' thick skull, did you?
It's like the fall flipped a switch in my mind. It's at that moment -- that I remember everything.
I immediately rise to my feet and clutch my chest. I fully expect a blade to be stabbed through my body. I pant heavily -- before realizing that I'm fine. But I still rest against a shelf, utterly confused.
Why was I here -- before I won the contest? Who were those people that attacked us? What happened to everybody in that ballroom? How could I get back to help them?
I'd have to win the contest, wouldn't I? But this store is all sold out. I could've sworn that this is where I won.
After that thought, one last memory returns to me.
NO. I REFUSE TO ACCEPT A TIME TRAVEL PLOT POINT THIS STUPID.
THIS ALSO MEANS THAT THERE'S THREE WINNING CANS NOW. THAT'S OBVIOUSLY GONNA FUCK WITH THE TIMELINE.
WHY DID RABIES NOT REMEMBER A CAN APPEARING IN HIS POCKET? YOU'D THINK THAT WOULD HAVE COME UP AT THE BEGINNING OF THE GAME.
This LP feels like it's been going on for a year, the pacing is so bad.
So we're just gonna get teleported to a concrete hallway with no explanation? Just like that?
Also, what are blankets made of in this furryworld? Did sheep furries willingly give up their wool?
You were thrashing about in your sleep. You passed out after the bombing incident. I wasn't sure how long you'd be out.
As you can see, we left the building. We're in an underground bunker, now. You can rest easy -- we're safe.
He takes a deep breath, as if it's finally all over. He leans back in his chair, giving me a slight smile.
So I was thrashing about in my sleep? Was that whole thing just a dream, then?
And so much of it doesn't matter.
I shift my body around, and rest my feet on the floor. This whole place smells stiff and uncared for. Almost like the prison back at Plair's house.
The events of the ballroom play back in my mind. Konrad lost Endymion -- and Plair lost Kabu. I wish there was something I could've done.
Acheron must sense the sorrow on my face. He places a paw on my shoulder and comforts me.
Acheron I know you don't mean it, but you're kind of dunking on yourself right now.
I laugh softly -- instantly doubting him. I don't think he has the same weight on his shoulders.
Life is full of hardships like this. But one thing is the same -- no matter what. We all have regrets when we overcome them.
Mine would be my lack of honesty. Towards you -- and everyone here. But at the same time, it was necessary.
Lack of honesty? What does he mean by that?
We kind of already know everything, what with Klace's habit of showing us every single aspect of the story that's going on outside Rabies' vision.
I believe that you've met Reiyo before. And I believe that you've been to the Ark. These are a couple things we have in common.
Those were the last things I expected him to say. I stare at him in sheer confusion, -- speechless. Perhaps his story goes deeper than I thought.
He granted me a portion of his power. The ability to slow or stop time's flow. And with that, he gave me an objective.
Bang-up job on that, by the way. I mean Kila was an acceptable lost but you kind of half-assed the rest.
But he gave me some opposition. Someone bent on killing all of you.
The woman who once sold ten tons of uranium yellowcake to an African dictator on a dare!
Yeah, I'm sure that you've figured it out. It was the arms heiress visiting Japan. Or should I say -- my sister.
My true name is Acheron Armstrong. Youngest in the Armstrong family line. But I've long since abandoned that name.
I'm liking this game's attempts at going "WOW, ISN'T THIS STORY COMPLEX? LOOK HOW COMPLEX I'M SAYING IT IS!"
Reiyo pitted sibling against sibling. One to protect -- and one to kill. The forces of life and death in our hands.
He turned it into some sort of contest. If any were left standing -- I would win. But if everyone died, Max was the victor.
The prize was The Ark itself. We would get to rule as an immortal being. Life and death would cater to our whims.
So this was a game to Max. If she won, she could undo the deaths. That -- and bring back our sister.
Shouldn't it have been pretty obvious to Reiyo that Max would only use her position as the Grim Reaper to inflate her company's stock value?
I hope that things are making more sense. That was the true nature of what happened. The truth behind the contention center.
So this was all just a battle to rule over The Ark? And we all got caught up in it because of my role. Reiyo said he had to watch me as well as the "contest".
But why would Reiyo want to leave The Ark? He said he was bored and lonely, but that can't be it. There has to be more to this story than we know.
It's probably for the best, but it would have been pretty funny to see Max become God and start deleting countries based on whether they had warrants for her arrest or not.
He lets out a soft grin.
Max relied far too much on her power. But I only ever used it twice, myself.
Once -- to plant my resume in Jade's office. And the second time, for the evacuation.
This line might seem boring enough, but much more to it than that.
So Major/Minor originally had a few different characters. Some got replaced, some were dropped entirely. Acheron was originally a character named Kalibur. Naturally, this was someone's furry OC.
This is Kalibur.
From what I've gathered, "Kalibur" eventually divorced himself from the project due to Klace being kind of a jackass, forcing Klace to replace him with Acheron.
So how did Klace handle Kalibur's departure? He could have just replaced him wholesale, but instead he leaves him in the game as an offscreen presence, then kills him offscreen by saying Max "took care" of him. There's literally no reason for this to ever come up other than Klace being a spiteful ass needing to get "revenge" on someone who crossed him.
Probably the easiest way to piss of Max is to insinuate that she is, in any way shape or form, a philanthropist.
I ask him why he's so sure of his victory. If Max had the power, there was still a chance.
No -- there's no chance. We were playing her right from the start. She fell into our trap far too easily.
"Our trap"? What did he mean by that?
And he believed you?!
Yeah, there's no way in hell Klace didn't make up this story as he went.
Singe is involved now, too? I feel like after this -- I won't have any questions.
Max planned all along to involve weapons. It was very easy for us to exploit this.
Initially Singe fought back against her. We needed Max to feel like she had power. It made it more believable when he caved.
Remember that photograph of someone important to Singe that Max ripped in half? And how it was never brought up again?
Entered the scene like a drunken understudy.
The contest would last for one whole day. Midnight tonight will be the battle's end.
It was important that we remained passive. Singe started to play a frightened role. "No sudden movements", he'd say.
We needed Max to believe she was winning. That's why--
He looks away from me before continuing.
Aw shucks Acheron, don't worry about it. In fact, you deserve a good high five.
This made Max even more confident. Tensions rose in the convention center. Tensions that made me seem inadequate.
People were fighting amongst themselves. They wanted to leave, but they couldn't. Singe was still playing his part.
Max was clearly winning, it was obvious. So it was -my- turn to act. I pretended that my resolve was wavering.
Yes, a "show".
I even acted at the press conference, too. I still feel bad about that outburst. But it was important to showcase doubt.
Max had what she wanted. Singe was completely in her pockets. Her brother wasn't able to outsmart her.
And everyone was still in one place. It would be so easy for her to win. That's when I decided to meet up with her.
It was all going according to plan. She actually suggested that we team up. She said we could kill the rest together.
But she didn't know I was recording. I got her to admit that she was the killer. But she thought she was just converting me.
Is getting rid of a bothersome squirrel really a "sacrifice"?
Of course Rabies does! Purge the weak! Strip the flesh!
Either way, we worked with the police. The bomb going off was their signal. Instead of coming in, they set a perimeter.
I did agree to work with Max. She believed that she had my allegiance. But I made use of the recording immediately.
It is absolutely amazing how one of the main villains of this entire game is defeated entirely offscreen.
Receiving the recording was their signal. After that -- they'd attack the building. But everyone except for her would be gone.
This whole plane assumed a lot, of course. First -- that she would use her weapons. And second -- that she would confess to me.
Bit of a nitpick, but wouldn't it be strategic signals?
Trust me -- she's not winning. If they didn't catch her, she's on the run. She'll lose control of the company as well.
I picked that exact time to evacuate. She'd be caught up in saving her own life. There's no way she knows where we are.
I believe that's what you call "checkmate".
This was crazy, to say the least. But if anyone could do it -- it was them. And the fact that we're here confirms it.
The strategy seems unfathomable because it's buried under so many damn layers of stupidity that the pressure has started forming diamonds.
I don't know what your role really is. In fact -- I don't even know if Reiyo does. But he'll be coming here shortly, anyway.
He has to take me to The Ark. Or should I say -- my new home. Perhaps he'll have some answers, then.
I'd suggest taking a walk around. Everyone is here except for Dazz and Singe. They're resting in a separate bunker.
I still thought it would be wise to do this. If Max found one of the bunkers? She still wouldn't be able to win.
I want a savior from this game.
I nod, and return to my feet. He was right -- things were coming to a close. I slowly walk towards the exit of the room.
But before I can leave, Acheron calls to me. I quickly turn back around and look at him.
oh god no
I take a few steps back towards him. I'm all ears -- and ask him what he wants to say.
Well, it's about the Armstrong name. Why I ran away -- why I left it behind. It's more related than you may think.
Rabies is just a sentient garbage disposal for exposition, isn't he?
Let's see- where should I start? Armstrong was run by my parents. That is, until about five years ago.
That is, they required investors in countries that wouldn't immediately be arrested for investing in their weapon.
What the hell was their pitch?
If you thought Zyklon was bad, wait 'till you get a load of this!
Why in the fuck would you "show off" a chemical weapon? Did they have an intern behind glass and just open up a canister of the stuff or something?
How were they testing this? Did they just assume they could gander at this stuff in a board room and everything would be fine? Why weren't they observing this stuff miles away?
And this just makes it sound like Armstrong's parents and the board of directors locked themselves in a glass room to get a good look at the chemical agent they'd brewed up.
That's hardly good behavior for an Armstrong. When Armstrong Sr. founded this company, he looked at pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and laughed! LAUGHED!
After this, the family was in disarray. Our older sister was thrust into leadership. But she wasn't trained -- none of us were.
The whole world had it's eyes on us. Some important people died that day. We tried our best to cover it all up.
But you can't cover up memories. These events affected families everywhere. We weren't the only ones who lost people.
It took a while, but we recovered. Business was good, and we traveled lots. Eventually, we ended up in Africa.
Question: what kind of weapons company would do this? Why would they be wasting their time with some guy in Africa when they could be scoring government contracts worth trillions?
Wouldn't, I dunno, guns have been a better investment for this person?
He was very nice to all of us. He gave us a tour of his massive estate. Then he wanted us to meet his son.
I was more than ecstatic to meet him. It's always nice to make strong connections. But the room he took us to was empty.
He started crying as he told us the truth. His son had moved to America a while back. He made a fortune investing in companies.
One of those companies was Armstrong. He broke down and kept asking us "why". Why did we take his son away from him?
"We probably should have known something was wrong when our mouths went numb."
I would've never guessed he had a past like this. He always seems so calm and collected. I ask him what happened next. And especially how it relates to current events.
Well -- we were separated when we woke up. I was tied to a chair, and he was there.
My older sister was tied to a chair, too. But she was in a room farther away. This is where it gets familiar.
How did this guy rig the bombs without blowing himself up?
I begged her to let our sister live. She was the head of the company, after all. I was nothing -- and didn't matter.
The man wanted us to experience his pain. But Max told him that we already did. We lost our whole family in that incident.
Unfortunately, he was too far gone. What he wanted was revenge. And we were the only remaining Armstrong's.
Another possibility I didn't consider is that all Armstrong bombs actually come with specific instructions on how to set them up when you've tied somebody to a chair and are planning to kill them in revenge.
I begged and I pleased for my death. It seemed like Max's choice was obvious. But for some reason, she wouldn't do it.
She let our older sister die. I still remember hearing the bomb. I heard the moment her life was ended.
The man came in to free me. As soon as he did -- I attacked him. I wanted to kill him, I really did.
That does not look like a scar. It looks like he just ran a line of lipstick across his nose.
A little convenient, wouldn't you say?
I think that's what she wanted all along. She took the opportunity to off our sister. That way, she's get to run the company.
But then -- did she kill our parents, too? Was she responsible for the "accident"? If she was, she finally got what she wanted.
This was back when Max was still in her "ominous threats" phase.
She swore that she caved under pressure. It had nothing to do with inheritance. Her body just went on autopilot.
But I would never know for sure. At least -- that's what I thought.
I didn't see her again until this ordeal. And of course -- what does she do? Sets up those bombs, and makes me watch.
Well it was easy, really. You see, while Rook is a complete wreck of a person that dumps his life story on anyone who will listen, Kila sealed his fate when he started talking about maid cafes, and it kinda just snowballed from there.
It would be even harder if it were family. I think she wanted to send that message. She wanted me to see what it looked like.
And it's not a pretty sight at all. But it did nothing to prove her innocence.
She's not above killing to inherit. It's what she's doing now for The Ark. To that end -- the message loses validity.
Wouldn't have Max's, uh, villainy been pretty obvious since she was a child? I can't imagine she just woke up one day and decided that she was going to be the best war criminal that ever war criminaled.
I thought you deserved to know. There was a reason you had to choose. And it was only to prove a point to me.
I'm sorry you had to experience that. But Maxine Armstrong is insane.
Heck, sometimes she just kills for the fun of it.
Was it a heartless company before or after your parents were making a new nerve agent?
I dunno. For all her flaws Max has a knack for making really annoying people go away.
He crosses his arms, as if he's done talking. I notice a slight glisten in his eyes.
You don't need to give me a reaction. It's just something I wanted you to know. You can leave the room as you see fit.
I nod at him, insure of what to say. I'm satisfied that I'm learning so many things. But I'm crushed at the sorrow he must've felt.
She knows the recipe for a new napalm mix that'll blow your socks off! Along with everything else!
And I'm very sorry for lying to you. I hope that you can learn to forgive me. As I said, lack of honesty is my regret.
But this whole thing was a setup. I couldn't risk the operation. This time -- I was forced to lie.
I never would've done it otherwise.
He better not bring back you-know-who.
That exposition dump was beyond pointless. I think my brain actually contains less knowledge now for me having read it.