The Let's Play Archive

Zero Time Dilemma


Part 6: Execution: D

Part 6: Execution: D

Looks like we're sticking with the plan again.

This time D-Team gets a vote.

I hope you all know what you're doing.

Music: Sinisterness Phase 2

The computer once again recognized our vote.

You'll see, Akane...

Hell, we don't even know if our note reached the other teams or not.

And even if it did, there's no guarantee they did what we asked.

Well, we at least know that Q-Team got the note and followed it.

We know Q-Team voted for C-Team, so the latter option is in play here.

The TVs turn on again.

The text here is the same as with Q-Team, just different reaction shots.

Sleep well, as the next game will begin when you awake. Unfortunately, the team who receives two votes will be unable to participate...

One final thing. You've gone through with the vote exactly as I commanded.

You deserve a reward for obeying.

When next you wake, those who survived will be able to regret the decision they made. As all members of a single team will perish as a result of the vote you entered.

Once again, we are "rewarded" with not losing our memory after this fragment.

Pleasant dreams...

You know the drill by now.

Back to the Team Select screen. Time to meet D-Team.

Just one more of these to go!

Music: Portentousness 2nd Mix

D-Team starts off in their Lounge.

[When a curious hate oozes calamity.]

Another message on the wall.

Hmm... So a moment when hate becomes calamity, huh...

I wonder what that means?

Beats me. Maybe it's not supposed to have a meaning?


You reorganize the letters into another sentence.

In another place...

The similar messages that adorned the warehouse walls in VLR were anagrams.

Diana is understandably confused by that statement.

Instead of going on a tour of their ward, D-Team finds the mystery box right away.

Sigma is trying to figure it out.

Sigma stands up - on-screen this time - to give Phi some snark.

It looks like something's written on it...

[Force Quit Box].

That's interesting...

I see a keyboard on it, too.

"Use this keyboard to input a password and force something to stop." Is that what this means?

She sounds like she's reading something. Were there instructions on this one?

What does it stop?

Diana leans forward while we look up and listen to several beeps followed by a longer, negative-sounding beep.

What did she put in?

Some banging noises while we stare at the ceiling again.

Won't budge.

Heavy doesn't even begin to cover it.

I doubt it's made out of anything from Earth.

That's a hell of a leap. I guess their box is super-heavy or bolted down or something for some reason. Or Sigma's messing with us.

My body's still got it!

This exchange will make more sense when I explain VLR in a little bit. And if you thought the plot of 999 was a little out there, you just wait.

Diana doesn't understand what's going on, either.

More clanging noises off-screen.

I wouldn't put it past them to both lie to us, but let's move on.

Diana reaches for the map...

Looks like it.

And it's added to our files.

Yes. That's what Zero said.

Let's go explore!

Music: Riddle and Puzzle 2nd Mix

Ward D also has its own rooms for prep and decontamination.

A rather odd-looking room, for...healing?


Are those robots?

And that's Ward D.

All right. We've checked all the rooms from top to bottom, but...

No, Diana, no easy exits here.

We are in a bomb shelter, after all.

Phi has no patience for Diana.

If there were several exits, it'd defeat the purpose it was built for.

A lot of players lose patience with this part of the game. Hearing all this stuff for the third time gets a little tired.

Phi nods, and we get another fade.

Back in the Lounge.

Mira! Eric! Can you hear me?

Carlos! Akane! Tenmyouji!!

There's no point. We wouldn't hear a drunk toga party at full volume on the other side.

I think we need six passwords to get this door to open, right?

Yeah. That X-Pass thing.

For every one person who dies, one password will be revealed...

Is that true, though...?

Diana still can't make sense of the banter between Sigma and Phi.

And another fade. We're getting there!

Music: Placidity 2nd Mix

Um, may I ask you guys something?

Q&A time.

Phi and Sigma glance at each other. Probably thinking about how much to actually tell Diana.

Do you guys know who Zero is?

But they called themselves "Zero". At the very least, they know about what happened a year ago.

We went over what happened a year ago already. Sigma and Phi weren't there but probably learned about it from Akane.

There's one more thing for sure.

Think about it. Why was Zero's speech to us pre-recorded?

There's got to be a very big reason why things can't be in real time. There are two possibilities.

Not sure why this speech takes place against the backdrop of the different TVs in the ward, but whatever.

They've already bit the bullet or...

Another nod from Phi.

So, Sigma and Phi obviously have some kind of experience with this kind of setting. Let's talk about VLR.

Once again, there are nine main characters who have been kidnapped by a villain referred to as Zero. Sigma is the protagonist, and is initially paired up with Phi. The games the players are forced to go through are based on the prisoner's dilemma problem, having to vote to either Ally or Betray over and over. The players gain or lose a certain number of points depending on the results. The players each started with three points, and had to get to nine points to win. Falling to or below zero points was a death sentence. These games were called the Ambidex Game, in contrast to the Nonary Game of 999.

Sigma and Phi have been kidnapped in 2028 and wake up in the middle of the game. Alice and Clover return from 999, also kidnapped in 2028 while trying to infiltrate a group called Free the Soul, for reasons. Not much is revealed about the other characters at first. Like in 999, VLR has the player choosing which doors to enter using a combination of the players' bracelets, which are combined via color instead of number this time. The different choices and the Ally/Betray (AB) Game lead to even more branching paths than in 999.

Of course, the plot wasn't nearly that straightforward in practice. We can kind of guess it wasn't 2028 in VLR, since it's 2028 now. But eventually Sigma discovers that the year is actually 2074. And also they're on the moon for some reason. And a virus called Radical 6 had been released in 2028 which killed six billion people and nearly wiped out humanity. And all of the players had been infected with Radical 6 to raise the stakes. And a symptom of Radical 6 was slowed cognition which supposedly caused all of the players to not realize they were on the moon with reduced gravity.

The whole point of the game was to induce Sigma and Phi in particular into shifting their consciousnesses across the branching timeline, gathering information from multiple branches in order to not only win the game, but prevent a murder and stop a terrorist from bombing the whole facility into tiny pieces. Even that purpose was really just training in order to send the pair back to the real 2028, to prevent the release of Radical 6 in the first place.

But wait, there's more. Phi, Clover, and Alice were transported to 2074 via cryogenic pods. However it had been established that there were only three such pods used. Sigma's story is even more complicated. After having mastered the consciousness shifting, young Sigma is somehow transferred from 2028 to 2074, where he experiences the events of VLR as a young mind in an old man's body. The player never notices because 2074 Sigma is never shown (the game takes place in a first-person view, like 999). Sigma himself never notices because he has bionic arms that not only provide the strength of a young man, but fool his sense of touch into thinking his features are still that of a young man.

Yeah, some of these reveals are a bit of a stretch. But the quantity and surprise-level kept players hooked until the end, anyway.

At the end of the game, young Sigma is returned to his own body after Radical 6 has already been released - missing an eye and his two arms. No one knows what went wrong in 2028. He teams up with Akane to create the technology and facilities needed to run the Ambidex Game. Yes, the player is actually Zero this time. In 2074, now-old Sigma gets booted from his body by the incoming young Sigma, and takes off for 2028 and the events of ZTD, to try and prevent Radical 6 from ever being released.

Phi's consciousness mirrors the same complicated jumps that Sigma went through. But since she spent all of the time between 2028 and 2074 in a cryogenic sleep, from her perspective she experiences the events of ZTD immediately after she goes through VLR. Unlike Sigma, who's doing it 45+ years later.

Akane shows up in VLR as Zero's hidden assistant. Two of the three main branches have her getting murdered before the game begins. The third branch has her initially missing while Phi and Sigma somehow travel back to before the start of the game to prevent her murder (which somehow only affects the one of the three branches where she wasn't observed as already dead). Near the end of the game, she shows up in a hologram to talk to Sigma and one of the other characters, Tenmyouji. This character is an old man who forced his way into the game. He's eventually revealed to be Junpei, the protagonist from the first game, who's been chasing after Akane all these years. They reunite during the final ending, but consdering all of VLR is a timeline that we're trying to avoid this time around, that's not exactly a happy ending.

Sorry if that recap went a little long. There was a lot going on in VLR. But now you understand why Sigma and Phi have a bit of an odd history with each other. Though at least it didn't go as badly as it did for Junpei and Akane after 999....

Next question: Will help come?

This time Sigma is bit by the missing-moving-lip-animation. To be fair I probably wouldn't notice if I weren't intentionally trying to grab a frame where the speaking character's mouth is open each time.

Maybe the Dcom experiment staff...?

Remember? The staff stationed in Dcom can't communicate with us right now. The simulation is attempting to stay true to an actual Mars mission.

It's at least six months between Earth and Mars. In that time period, Earth will have rotated halfway around the Sun. Which means--

I don't think this explanation holds together, since Mars would also move through a bit over one-quarter of its own orbit during this time. It depends on their relative positions at the start of the journey. But you wouldn't typically launch a mission with Mars one-quarter orbit behind Earth and falling further behind - you want them to pass each other during the transfer time. In fact, an ideal (minimum-energy) transfer orbit between Earth and Mars would take nine months - here are some images courtesy of JPL:

Mars is actually about 1/8 ahead of Earth at the start of the transfer.

At the end, Earth has gone through 3/4 of its orbit, while Mars is at about halfway. The sun isn't between them, and won't be until about six months later. What's interesting is that Mars is on the opposite side of the sun from when the Earth was at the start of the transfer. But Earth moves during that time.

Of course maybe the ZTD world isn't all that concerned about minimizing energy, and can burn some extra fuel to shave off three months of travel time. But I couldn't let that one go.

That's the lead up... We've been doing experiments for the past five days.

Transmissions will re-establish on December 31 at 23:30. Which leaves us with more than 10 hours.

Orbital mechanics issues aside, I do like how they provide an explanation for why no one notices that the group has been kidnapped.

You're totally in-sync...

She says this while almost giggling.

Another shared glance.

Final question: The way Sigma talks.

Well, he's an old man in a young man's body who grew old in a future that we're trying to make sure doesn't happen. Not exactly the same historical background as the others in the group.

Forgive him. The age of his mind and his body are completely different.

Diana's now ready to accept this crazy story as truth now, I guess.

Missing Lip Animations: 5

That's why I know what will happen in the future.

If nothing changes, mankind will be destroyed...

Subtlety is not really Sigma's thing.

Akane, Phi, and I infiltrated Dcom to stop all of that from happening...

I'm not sure if Diana's starting to believe them here or just trying to pick apart their story.

Sigma interrupts a little heatedly here. Getting defensive.

Ok, the last Q&A session is over. Let's do another fade.

That might come in handy later. If we have any incidents that aren't immediately fatal, anyway.

Diana is interrupted by a loud metal banging noise.

Music: Initiation (Preamble)


Why is Gab here...

Gab made it through!

See anything?

No, it's too dark...

Missing Lip Animations: 6

It's clearly impossible.

You sure?

I won't repeat myself. My boobs are...Ds.

It's been forty-five years.

I didn't get this gag when they did it in VLR and I don't get it now.

Thank you, Diana.

What is this?

Is that a coaster?

Quick fade and the coaster is now in Diana's hands. I wonder what it's going to say?

No tricks here, it's the same coaster that Q-Team sent on.

"Hello. Carlos here. C-Team is voting for D-Team, so D-Team should vote for Q-Team, and Q-Team for C-Team." And someone else wrote--

"Q-Team - Got it"

Seems so.

Here's the map with Gab's route again.

I guess Gab passed through Ward C to Ward Q, and ended up here...

Missing Lip Animations: 7

Now none of the teams will have to die!

We're interrupted again, this time by the computer lady.

Damn. We don't have much time. We need to head over to the voting device.

Music: Consternation 2nd Mix

What exactly did you mean earlier, Phi?

I'm saying it could be a lie.

Do you mean that Q-Team is planning to betray us?

No, I doubt it. If that's what they intended, they didn't have to send Gab. They'd only have to decide to vote for D-Team.

Then you mean...

There's a chance that C-Team will betray us... Maybe they're saying they'll vote for D-Team, but actually vote Q-Team...

All this speculation wears a little thin once you realize that we're the ones controlling all the votes.

To make us choose Q-Team.

If you think it's a good idea to spread out the votes, then your choice is easy, right?

D-Team gets a final reminder.

So we have no choice but to choose Q-Team. Otherwise...

Diana's not reassured. The heartbeat thumps.

It's the final execution vote!

Music: Ambidexterity 2nd Mix

We have the benefit of knowing how the other teams have voted already. They both followed the plan laid out in the note. We can go for a tie by voting Q-Team. Or we can turn things on their head and have C-Team killed. Choose who to execute.


Just the map of Ward D this time. The Gabletter hasn't changed.

Here's the list of all the files so far. The Quest ones come from the puzzle rooms. We'll get to those someday.