“If everyone understands-” Rose is interrupted as the loud, eye-patched, troll shouts over her.
“Alright losers this shouldn't be hard, you've all got maps. Let’s go!”
“Vriska,” Terezi warns, earning a shrug and smug smirk.
“What? Someone has to get things moving!”
Aaand you were already starting to feel the receding panic get replaced with a headache. Great. You make a mental note about how piss poor of a job these idiots were doing at leading and keeping things on track.
“I think you're makin’ this take longer actually,” Roxy chimes in. You notice a small shift in Rose’s stance and how she seems to be avoiding looking directly at Roxy.
“Yes, exactly,” Rose says. Vriska scoffs but otherwise doesn't interrupt this time. “Assignments to everyone's liking I hope? Shall we get on with this investigation or has someone else suddenly remembered some previously forgotten grievance?”
A few murmurs of confirmation rise from the group but no one protests.
“Good, now investigation begin!” Terezi shouts, impatiently excited.
The five other groups shuffle out of the gym, nearly everyone at varying levels of apprehensive. Not much is said aside from a few quiet exchanges amongst them. Nepeta says a brief farewell to you before she and Equius leave with two other trolls.
Once everyone else has left a silence fills the room. It doesn't last long however.
“Yo Rose. Rose. What the fuck?” Dave suddenly says, making you realize how he hadn’t said anything during the whole opening ceremony fiasco.
“You'll have to elaborate Dave. There was quite a lot of information thrust upon us in such a short amount of time. It is ludicrous for you to assume that I have managed to process all of it, let alone have the telepathic ability to determine which of those things you are referring to,” Rose responds.
“I mean yeah there was a lot of stuff and I’m sure we can rap about that later, like how you're here too and that's great and terrible, but I mean… Did you see them?”
“Judging by how vague you are being I do not think it presumptuous of me to assume you do not refer to John and Jade, but rather the other group of humans that share distressingly similar appearances with our group of four. In which case, yes I did in fact see them but I would prefer to focus on the present matter and worry about them at a later time when my thoughts are less preoccupied with avoiding death.”
“Do you understand what they are talking about perchance?” Kanaya asks, approaching you and keeping her voice low so as to not interrupt.
“I have no idea what they’re blabbering on about,” You say, not even bothering to control your normal volume. What did it matter if you spoke loudly? It wasn't like the two humans were making an effort to keep their conversation private anyway.
“We are hardly ‘blabbering on’ as you put it. You are also quite surprisingly loud. Someone more inclined to believe in simple cliches might attribute that to an attempt to compensate for the small stature. But that would also be quite rude to say of someone I have only just now met,” Rose says, her mouth drawn into a smirk.
“Oh man you should hear his insults. Karkles is hilarious,” Dave adds.
“Wow. Fuck you. Fuck you both. And it’s Karkat! Stop giving me stupid nicknames you obnoxious shitmouth,” You reply. Forget every positive thought you ever had about Rose. What even was that? When had this become Attack Karkat Time?
“Oh my, but he is quite loud huh?” Kanaya too? She must have noticed your deepening scowl as she immediately apologizes, but the amusement hasn’t left her face. “I am sorry, that was uncalled for.”
“As amusing as continuing to pick on Karkat or muse about our mysterious near-dopplegangers would be I would rather not delay the task at hand. Dave could I receive your assistance examining the stage while our troll companions inspect what I suspect is an equipment room?” Rose asks. Although she only directly addressed Dave she does make sure you and Kanaya are okay with that.
You both nod and Dave raises his hand in a human gesture you know as a ‘thumbs up’, which is a stupid name as it usually only involves a single thumb. Even when it does involve both thumbs they call it a ‘double thumbs up’ or otherwise specify that they are using two thumbs instead of one. Very little about human culture makes sense.
As you split into two pairs the tension surges back. You hadn't realized how much of a reprieve the brief relatively normal, if insulting, interaction had been, but the gnawing fear creeping back into you made you almost miss the presence of the two humans.
Luckily Kanaya didn't seem content to let the silence linger too long. “So I am admittedly curious to know what your Ultimate title is. Mine happens to be the Ultimate Fashion Designer, which I find rather pleasing as it is indeed an activity I am fond of.”
“I still have no idea where the fuck I'm supposed to learn that,” you say, pushing open the door to the attached block. It seems Rose was right about there being equipment here. You briefly wonder how many of these things could be utilized as weapons before burying that deep in your apprehension sponge.
“Hmm,” Kanaya hums thoughtfully as she runs her hand delicately over a row of striped orange spheres. “That is odd, considering I was informed of my title by the initial greeting on my Handbook. Have you viewed the other applications?”
“No, I was too busy wondering how to avoid my impending death to care about this dumb thing,” You pull the tablet from your pocket and start tapping the screen. “I only used the map to get around this nightmare schoolhive.”
“Perhaps the Student ID feature will have more information?”
Finally taking the time to examine the tablet you silently curse past Karkat for not even making the smallest attempt to figure the thing out. In addition to the map there is ‘Student ID’ and ‘School Regulations’. Huh. You expected...more. The wording from the earlier message had made you assume this thing would do something other than contain three information pieces.
You click on the ID and are greeted with an image of yourself (Where did it come from?) with various details written alongside it. Name, height, weight...Blood- You freeze and flick your gaze to Kanaya. She isn't looking at you; she's looking at the various items on the shelves, politely avoiding hovering over you. It's fine. You're fine. Whoever brought you here knows but…
No one else does yet. You just stopped panicking now is not the time to start again. It doesn't matter anyway; you're going to die here regardless. Just have to shove it to the back of your thinkpan, deal with having that breakdown later.
Kanaya suggested the Ultimate title might be here. You focus on that instead of the other thing. However the answer is far from satisfying. ‘Ultimate ????????’ What is that supposed to mean?
“Of course!” You shout before you think to stop yourself. “Of fucking course! Why would I expect anything different?”
“Are you alright?” Kanaya asks, giving you a concerned and confused look.
“Just fucking wonderful! I always knew I was a useless, talentless, pathetic waste of space but it's just fucking great to see it confirmed even in this fucked up scenario!”
“I believe what you meant to say was ‘no'. Maybe I can help if you explain what you are screaming about.”
“There's no title! I have no Ultimate talent, which makes sense because I'm certainly not good at anything anyway! What would it even be? Ultimate belligerent asshole with no volume control?”
“I do not understand. There was just no title given to you?”
“Nothing! Nothing but some stupid surprise noodles left there to taunt me! Ha look at Karkat Vantas the king of all dipshits! Can't even get trapped in a death game right!”
“It is doubtful that there is a correct way to get ‘trapped in a death game’. These titles do not seem to mean anything anyway, likely just serving to enhance this strange theme.” Kanaya has been keeping her tone calm, careful, and although you want to be pissed off about it, you can't deny that what she’s saying makes sense.
“Still…” You trail off, anger suddenly deflating in the face of reason. How does she manage to be so composed?
“Yes, I can imagine how feeling so left out would be quite frustrating. Even in a situation like this one.”
You let out a noncommittal grunt. Without the indignant rage you're just left with the shitty lingering effects of your self loathing. It's a festering, miserable feeling that you don't feel like giving voice to right now. Instead you shut your wretched noise chute for once and busy yourself with the task at hand.
Various pieces of both familiar and unfamiliar equipment fill the block, which is more like an overgrown closet in your opinion. Balls of different sizes and colors sit on shelves or in bins. A pile of rackets and sticks is leaning up against a far corner. The opposite corner contains a few practice swords and bows shoved against the wall, mirroring the racket pile. Larger things, like thick mats and a large net, have been kept out of the way. Everything looks carefully organized, in a way that makes it all look almost unused, but a few things seem to have been haphazardly placed in the wrong spot. One of the smaller fuzzy, yellow, balls is lodged in a pile of large, dull red, ones. A hooked stick is wedged between two mats. Little things that aren't quite where they belong. Kanaya makes sure to place the items in their correct spots as she finds them, tidying up the room.
You're beginning to find her presence strangely comforting, the silence for once pleasant rather than stressful. It is occasionally broken by small comments between you, noting the things you're finding or wondering which human sport an unfamiliar object is for. You are making a comment about the stupidity of calling the brown oblong shape a ball while all the other balls are spheres when the nice atmosphere is abruptly shattered. The door swings open and, just as quickly, gets nearly slammed shut as you hear Rose’s voice shout something from the other side.
“Sup,” Dave says, obnoxiously nonchalant, as if he didn't just rush in here in an extremely suspicious manner.
“Is something wrong?” Kanaya asks. She cautiously moves towards the door.
“Yep. Everything’s cool. All green. Fine and dandy,” Dave shuffles further into the room. “Just wanna see what's up in the sports closet.”
“Uh huh. And that's why you ran in here like a cluckbeast whose cranial lump was cut off?” You eye him suspiciously.
“Just really excited to see what shit we can play bro. I am the king of sports. Know all about putting the touchdowns in the basket.”
“I am going to check outside,” Kanaya says before leaving the block.
“Nah there's nothin’ out there but go ahead I guess. I mean, Rose is out there but nothing bad. Unless you've got a severe allergy to being psychoanalyzed.”
“You do realize she can't hear you Strider? Not that you seem to care if anyone is or wants to listen to you ramble.” You resent that you've been left alone with this living embodiment of a migraine. “Regardless, as much fun as it would doubtless be to see just how far down your moron tunnel you can fit your foot I'm done in this ‘sports closet’ so you can have fun with your sticks and balls alone.”
One corner of his mouth twitches upwards into an amused smirk. “Can't believe you're thinkin’ about me like that bro.”
“Like what? You said you enjoy your human sports so what is the problem?”
“I don't know shit about sports.”
“I don't actually give a fuck.”
You push past him and through the door before the conversation continues its descent into idiocy. Dave follows, causing you to wonder if this is just a thing he does, follow people who want nothing to do with him.
Rose stops her quiet conversation with Kanaya mid-sentence as you approach. The way she looks at you is uncomfortable, as if she's trying to pick apart your very being with her gaze alone. You stiffen defiantly to hide your discomfort, but her smug expression tells you that she sees right through that attempt.
“Good to see you back so soon Dave,” she says, turning her attention away from you. “I was just conferring with Kanaya about our findings. Given your rush to go in there I suspect you found something to your liking?”
“Oh yeah, gonna get my sports on. Can't wait,” he responds.
“Well at least contain your excitement until after our group meeting.”
“Ruining my fun Lalonde. I had plans of turning that meeting into a sportstraveganza. Like the superbowl and the world cup having sex in a basketball court.”
“Does anything he says make any sense? Ever?” You ask.
“I'm afraid this is just a small taste of the folly of Strider.” Rose just seems amused by the whole situation.
“You wound me Rose.”
“Thankfully it isn't fatal. You'll survive.”
“I would hate to aggravate your injuries, but perhaps we should depart for the meal block?” Kanaya seems nearly as amused as Rose does. “Others may be finishing up and I would not like to keep everyone waiting.”
“Yes, of course. Assuming Dave doesn't need to recover before the journey.”
“If he wants to be a wiggler about it he can stay here alone,” you grumble.
“Cool, good to know I can count on you assholes.” Dave shrugs a shoulder and starts towards the exit. “Let’s go get the gang back together and start the reunion tour then.”
You heave a heavy sigh as the four of you leave the gym.
By the time you get there the cafeteria has descended into chaos. Your group was the last to arrive and the arguing brought about by so many clashing personalities was in full swing. It was impossible to tell what had started it, but it didn't matter. You didn't have the patience for putting up with all this bullshit right now.
“Attention bulgelicking morons! Kindly cease all the fucking noise from your respective ignorance tubes and pay the fuck attention!” You raise your voice above your already loud normal volume. It has the desired effect. “In the interest of getting this shit over with as quickly as possible let’s pretend to get along for five fucking minutes and discuss how screwed we are.”
“That’s what I've been trying to do!” Vriska shouts.
“Nuh uh! You've just been trying to make yourself leader! We barely even know each other yet we can't pick a leader!” A long haired human stands from where she was sitting.
“I would have-”
“Shut up!” You interrupt Vriska. “No one cares! The human-”
“Jade.” She corrects you. You choose to ignore that.
“-is right! What kind of dipshit makes a stranger their leader?”
No response from Vriska this time. You guess she can't think of an argument to that.
“We should probably decide on an order,” Rose says.
“The meal block squad should go first!” Terezi slams both palms loudly against the table, then points vaguely in the direction of three trolls. “Feferi did your group find anything of note?”
You take a seat at the long table as the sea-dweller you assume is Feferi begins speaking.
She explains enthusiastically about the block you're currently in. When she mentions that, like every other room she's been in, there is a strange monitor mounted on the wall you’re unsettled at how you missed something that obvious. You were apparently panicking harder than you thought. She's started explaining the attached ‘kitchen' and how it has two large ‘refrigerators’ stocked full of both human and troll food. You're too busy being thankful that you actually can strike starvation from the Possible Causes of Death list to complain about highblood terminology.
The discussion continues at a similar pace, with Terezi keeping order and selecting a representative to relay each group's findings. The second group consists of Jade and two other exceedingly similar looking humans. One of them, John, explains that their investigation was cut really short. Apparently the ‘nurse's office’ was locked and nothing was out of place in the bathrooms (They seemed to be the only place without a monitor though.) They took the extra time to investigate the hallways, finding a barred off stairwell leading both up and down.
Your group goes next, with Rose taking lead. She and Dave had tried to find any sign of a trap door on the stage and failed, leaving open the question of how Monokuma got there so suddenly. You interject to explain the equipment closet, but are otherwise content to let Rose handle this.
Roxy, one of the humans who had the misfortune to work with Eridan, says the respite blocks are all labeled and shut with electronic locks, each tied to the individual’s handbook. Unfortunately each room’s interior is identical meaning no recuperacoons, only human slumber platforms. At least you don't have to worry about anyone breaking in and murdering you in your sleep. Not that you'll get much of that. Also they come with attached ablution blocks, which is another positive.
Terezi allows Vriska to “present their findings”, likely to keep the power hungry troll from getting too antsy. There are two ‘classrooms’ on this floor, but they contain nothing of interest. They did manage to find where the exit should be, but predictably and disappointingly it is heavily fortified. Unless the windows on the second floor were conveniently forgotten during the fortification process you really are trapped.
Finally Nepeta talks about the rather large library, which contains a mixture of both Earth and Alternian literature. At least you won't be bored with whatever short time you have remaining. Nothing otherwise noteworthy was found, though they didn't have the time to “purruse” all the books. All of these facts add up to a multitude of useless school objects and a serious lack of options.
“I was hoping there’d be some fucking computers. Even a shit one,” A troll in obnoxious duel-colored glasses complains.
“There’s no way there isn’t any somewhere. Not with that robot around.” That human has bullshit spiky hair and equally bullshit spiky shades. Why do so many of these assholes have ridiculous eyewear?
“Robot?” You ask.
“The bear, obviously,” Equius says, looking disgusted that he has to speak to you.
“The mechanized stuffed animal menace. Either someone's controllin’ it or it’s a piece of sophisticated tech. A place with that wouldn't be this low tech,” Spiky shades continues.
“Well there's clearly more to this school than meets the eye. Many mysteries still afoot for us to solve! Like those pesky locked areas.” The remaining unknown human girl chimes in excitedly.
“Aw yiss Janey we’re gonna solve all the mysteries up in this beetch,” Roxy adds, draping an arm over the other’s shoulder.
“Naturally. As if it was any question we’d get out with me here,” Vriska says.
“Rather confident of you.” Kanaya looks unamused.
“The sentiment, however self-aggrandizing, is a good one to have. Determination-”
“Rose. I don't think the wordy speech shit’s necessary. Snarky or otherwise,” Dave interrupts.
“Your shit’s never necessary Strider but that doesn't stop you from unleashing a torrent of meaningless words to aggravate every unfortunate-”
“Wait. Strider?” You are now the one being interrupted. By the triangle sunglasses asshole.
“Uh, yeah bro. That's my name. Dave Strider.”
The humans glance around at each other in a mix of confusion and unease. All except for Roxy.
“Oh man I thought he looked like ya but he has the same name too? Dirk this is crazy weirds!”
“Really weird,” Dirk? agrees.
You are so fucking lost. Granted everyone looks varying levels of confused but you're the only one you care about here.
“Nepeta thought that humans often had family groups?”
“Yeah but like, I got no clue who this dude is. Don't got no long lost twin or nothin’,” Dave says.
“I agree on the bizarre nature of this conundrum,” Rose rejoins the conversation. “None of us had siblings, lost or otherwise, but now we seem to be sharing space with eerie lookalikes.”
“It’s really freaky. Jade and I were talking to Jake about how weird it was that we look so alike.” You recall this human’s name was John.
“Most confounding that particular jigsaw.” That must be Jake then.
“So you are not human family then?” Kanaya asks.
“Nope! We're all only children,” Jade says.
“Oh! Is that not normal for humans? How weird!” Feferi sounds too excited for such a mundane piece of information.
“Do you guys not know anything about humans?”
“John, do you know anything about trolls?” Rose asks.
“Not really, ha ha.”
“Do any of you incompetent dung-nozzles know anything about trolls?” You doubt their answer will be yes.
“Ya got horns. You’re grey. You like hate fucking,” Dave’s answer is so unsurprising it hurts.
“Good job you pathetic, hornless, thin-skinned mammal with strictly inferior romance system. I'm so impressed at that astounding level of knowledge that I'm speechless.”
“So about this weird mirror not-family shit?” Dirk tries steering the conversation back on track.
“Uuuuuuuugggggggghhhhhhhh!!!!!!!! This human shit is boring!” Vriska dramatically flops down onto the table.
“Apologies that our conundrums are not to your interest,” Rose says.
“Personally I think it is fascinating, although I confess I do not quite understand it,” Kanaya says.
“Smells interesting to me too!” Terezi punctuates her statement by sniffing the air.
“I think this is all pointless and stupid. Do I even need to be here now? Or can I go attempt to sleep off this nightmare?” You really are tired, but that isn't any surprise. You're always tired.
“What uh..what time is it anyway?” The nervous troll in the wheelchair has enormous horns holy shit.
“Is it all being time for a motherfucker to get his sleep on?” Jegus that is one sopored up looking asshole in greasy clown face paint.
“I think the handbook slab had a clock,” Terezi pulls her tablet out and then just...fucking licks it. Everyone here is so weird. You hate them all. “It’s-”
She's interrupted by a notice chime and the awful robot bear appearing on the monitor. You have no idea where he is or if this is just a recording, but you can clearly see a wall of screens behind him. They are displaying images of different places in the schoolhive.
“Ahem, may I have your attention please? The time is now 10:00 pm. It is now nighttime. The gym and cafeteria are now off limits, please leave these areas as they will be locked shortly. That is all. I wish you all a good night. Sweet dreams~”
The monitor clicks off with an audible pop.
“You heard the bear let’s adjourn,” Terezi says.
“We’ll meet back here in the morning. Everyone better be on time or else.” Vriska adds.
“Or else they’ll get a pan drubbing!”
No one has any objections to that idea, nor do any of you want to find out what happens if you take too long to leave the nutrition block. The respite blocks seem to be the only real destination and a mass migration heads in their direction. Being caught alone after everybody else has gone to sleep is the last thing anyone wants right now. None of the idle conversations catch your attention during the short walk. You're aware that you didn't eat anything today, and you briefly wonder if everyone forgot or if you’re the only one. Either way it’s too late for that now.
You enter your designated block, and as the door closes your anxiety rears its horns again and you find yourself somewhat looking forward to tomorrow morning. Both for the food and for the company. They're a bunch of stupid, aggravating, assholes but, although you’d never admit it, being alone with only your own thoughts is worse.