“Miss Y/N, what are you implying?” the painting asked.
“I’m implying that I don’t have to give you the gun. Duh,” you said, holding it with a shaking hand, “I’m not handing it over.”
“...Miss Y/N,” the voice said, “I’m sure we can come to a compromise.”
“Can we?” you taunted, “I’m bleeding over here. And it’s your fault. And what’s the point in playing this game?”
“If we give you some bandages, will you give us the gun?”
“No,” you replied flatly.
There was no way you were going to give away a weapon. No way. If it got into the wrong hands, terrible things could happen. And everything was already as bad as it was. Haruka was dead. You had no idea what had happened to Itsuki. You and a handful of other people were kidnapped including several acquaintances of yours.
“How about we make a deal? ” the voice asked, “I’m in your debt, Miss Y/N. I owe you one favor. I’ll even throw in the bandages. Do we have a deal?”
A favor? Was that even possible? Should you accept? Well, not like there was anything that could stop the blood leaking out of your hands--
“Y/N,” Sara said steadily, her face pale, “Just give us the gun. Trust us. We even have a policeman here. We got this. Take the bandages and go patch yourself up. Please.”
“I can’t,” you said, your breathing catching in your throat.
Images filled your head as you could practically see the hole forming in Sara’s head, blood gushing from the wound. Crimson liquid splattering onto the ground, Joe’s form slumping over. Vomit emptying out from Q-taro’s mouth and hitting the ground. Keiji on the ground, still and unmoving. Kai standing still, not knowing what to do. No way. There was a risk. No no no no no no nononononnonononononononono--
“I can’t,” you said, “But if you really want me to, I’m staying.”
“What?” Sara asked.
“I’ll give you the gun,” you told them steadily, “But I’m staying.”
You slid the gun through the metal bars.
“The transaction has been made!” the painting exclaimed, “Now let me get you some bandages, Miss Y/N.”
Do you really want to stay?
Do you really want to stay?
“I’m going to go look for something to break the bars,” Sou said, “Be right back.”
“Stay safe!” you called out.
He flashed a thumbs up and ran out down the room and to the corridor. He disappeared. A slot opened in the ceiling as a roll of bandages fell on your leg.
You began to unwrap the bandages while listening to the rules.
“So as I was saying with the revolver… ” the painting echoed, “You’re gonna play a little game.”
“So yer saying we’re gonna be targets for a revolver?!” Q-taro gasped, blanching.
Keiji just calmly smiled, “And? What are the rules for this? Surely there’s an outcome where nobody dies.”
“Ha ha ha! Naturally!” the painting laughed, “A regular deathtrap is just old-hat, get me? But… see, First you have to decide who’ll be the Challenger for me.”
Q-taro clenched his fist, “You’re tellin’ us to decide who’s gonna shoot without knowin’ what the game is?! Who’s gonna want to be the targets?!”
“... Will the Challenger be safe?” Joe asked.
“Yep! Only the targets get to relish the thrill! What a shame!”
“...I see,” Joe said.
‘Shame my ass,’ you thought, ‘God… I feel so… helpless.’
“Sara, can I ask you to be Challenger?” Joe asked.
“...Wha?!” Sara exclaimed.
“WHAT?!” you screeched
You accidentally tightening the bandage to hard, letting a stream of curse words flow out of your mouth.
“D-don’t kid me!” Q-taro exclaimed, “Ya can’t decide that all on yer own!”
“I suppose it may not be proper to make a young girl handle a gun…” Kai agreed softly.
“I’m in favor of it myself,” Keiji said, “Sara’s got a clear head.”
“Well, Sara?” Joe asked, “You confident?”
“...confident?” Sara murmured, “...please. Let me do it.”
“Joe, what are you thinking?!” you asked, “From what I know, she’s never even used a gun!”
“I trust her,” Joe said, defending Sara, “Out of everyone in this room, I’ll only let Sara hold the gun.”
“Joe,” you said, stressing his name, “What if this doesn’t work out? What if she kills someone?”
He shook his head, “She won’t! Just trust her!”
“It’s a weapon,” you repeated, “You’re giving a highschooler a weapon. D… do you know what could happen?”
“Why are you so stressed over this?” Sara asked, “Y/N… did you not tell us something?”
“No way,” Q-taro interrupted, “Can’t approve’a that. ‘Snot like I don’t trust ya… Don’t think badly of me.”
“... Holding it to a vote…” Kai said as if it was the last thing he wanted to say, “Perhaps… this is the best way to settle this. Why don’t we discuss it… and then hold a majority vote?”
“Yeah… might be the only way,” Keiji agreed.
“Right…!” Joe breathed.
“...gotcha. Let’s do it,” Q-taro said.
“Do I get to vote?” you asked.
“I’m afraid not,” Kai said, “Since you are not going to be directly involved in this trial.”
“What?!” you exclaimed, pain shooting up your leg as you tried to stand up, “Wha?!”
“Don’t push yourself!” Sara said.
“You’re in more danger than me, Sara Chidouin,” you told her, “Sara… you don’t want to be…”
‘Like her. Don’t be like her.’
“Alright,” Q-taro declared, interrupting once again, “let’s discuss who’s gonna take the role of Challenger.”
“Are you ready?” Keiji asked Sara, “Just remember. I’m always on your side.”
“Once we’ve settled our opinions,” Kai continued, “We’ll hold a vote at the end.”
“...Sara…” Joe said, “You know what’s up! Show Q-taro that you’re worth trusting!”
Sara nodded. She turned to face Q-taro as he looked at her.
“No objections here, right?” he asked, “So let’s talk it out. Straight to the point: I’ve got experience handlin’ guns. So leave bein’ the Challenger to me.”
“Is that true?” Joe asked.
Q-taro grinned, “Yep, I hate lies. So I got real acquainted with shootin’ when I went to the US!”
“So you’re saying you’ve had training?” Keiji asked, “I’ll keep it simple too. Q-taro, even if you had experience, I can’t trust you. Heck, I’d even hand the gun over to Y/N over there is she were in here instead of Sara.”
“Me?” you asked.
“...really now?” Q-taro muttered.
“Sorry,” Keiji said unapologetically.
“Why would you give it to me?” you asked.
Keiji shrugged, “Although you seem pretty adamant against us even using the gun, I feel like you’re level-headed when it comes to the situation. You’re not as ditzy as you show yourself to be. But that gun really made you start sweating, huh?”
“How observant,” you said.
“The mood has become tense…” Kai commented, “Hrm… I’m undecided. It pains me to put responsibility on Miss Sara.”
“She’ll be fine!” Joe reassured, “She’s got a mind of steel! Just call her Steelmind!”
“...Steelmind…?” Kai repeated.
Joe walked up to Sara as the two began to converse. You just managed to bandage your arm and stand up. You clutched the almost empty bandage roll tightly and watched the others begin to talk even more.
“We don’t have time to build enough time. Time to build trust, that is,” Keiji said.
“Precisely,” Kai pointed out, “And yet… it seems you are very trusting of Miss Sara. I could say Miss Y/N as well.”
“Oh, you can tell?” Keiji asked, raising an eyebrow.
“If I may offer my interpretation,” Kai said, “Perhaps it’s because Sara, Joe, and Y/N are acquainted? Because those three can vouch for each other, you concluded that they could be trusted, yes?”
“Do I look that calculating?” Keiji asked, “That comes as a real shock. It’s just intuition. I’m confident in my eye for people. And you’re wrong. The only one I trust in this room is Sara.”
“Wow, thanks,” you said drily.
“I see…” Kai murmured, “However, there is a piece missing from your story.”
“...oh yeah?” Keiji asked.
Kai remained silent to his statement.
“Though I’m not confident in holding a gun myself, it becomes a question for who I want to hold it,” Kai said, “Of course… there is someone who is suited to such a task. But for some reason, he is not presenting himself as a candidate.”
“Oh yeah,” you murmured, “You’re a police officer, aren’t you? Aren’t all officers trained to fire a gun?”
“Whatever the case, if he refuses it, I have no desire to ask him,” Kai said, “...how troubling.”
“Not a lotta people in this country handle guns,” Q-taro said, “My experience is valuable, ain’t it?!”
“Yeah,” you whispered to yourself, “It’s illegal to use one without a license.”
“What did you say?” Joe asked.
“Nothing,” you said.
“We don’t know what the game entails,” said Kai, “But if it requires skill with guns, then yes.”
“Right! I aint’ thinkin’ a single thought to keep my own hide safe!” Q-taro exclaimed. “I’m just considerin’ the best way to beat this game!”
‘That makes it sound all the more suspicious,’ you thought.
“I… I do get what you’re saying, but…” Joe hesitated.
“You guys gotta think about it rationally,” Q-taro continued.
“It’s not like we’re not thinking about it either, okay?” Joe said in mild frustration.
“In all rational thought,” you said, “The game could also include something else other than accuracy. Speed. Logic. Luck. Or other skills one person might not have as much as another.”
“Thank you,” Joe said.
“I’m still not agreeing that Sara should shoot,” you said.
As the others discussed, Joe headed over to you.
“Y/N,” he said, “Why don’t you want Sara to shoot. Did… you not tell us something? Is this about that incident?”
“I’m not talking,” you insisted, “It’s… not my right and not something that I really want to talk about.”
“What happened?” Joe asked, “In that year… all Sara, Ryoko, and I know was that there was a stalker. That’s it. What the heck happened? And then you got all depresso espresso over Itsuki getting a girlfriend and him being clumsy—”
“It’s… not like that,” you laughed bitterly, “Not like that at all, Joe.”
“What trial did you have?” you asked, “You could save her, right? Using the key and solving a puzzle or something, I’m gathering?”
“Yeah,” Joe said, “What about it?”
“Well, of all people, and of all trial outcomes… I had—”
“Keiji is the only one who I’ll let shoot!”
The two of you turned around to see the group in chatter.
“What’s happening?” Joe asked.
“Keiji is a cop, yet he won’t shoot!” Q-taro exclaimed, “He won’t even say why!”
“I’m sure he has his reasons,” you said.
“Keiji… what’s the matter?” Joe asked, “Why are you keeping silent?”
“If you refuse, I wish to know the reason,” Kai agreed, “At this rate, it’s quite an issue.”
“Keiji, why do you want me to shoot?” Sara asked.
“How many times do I gotta tell you?” Keiji joked, evading the question.
“Keiji, why are you staying silent?” Sara interrogated, “Answer me!”
“Sara! Calm down!” you exclaimed.
“Whoa there,” Keiji said, “Haha you sound just like my mom, haha! Anyway, thanks Y/N. I think you’ll understand the best out of everyone here. I… shot a person. Ever since then, I haven’t been able to hold a gun since.”
“...huh?! Sara asked.
“I know it’s pathetic,” Keiji said, “Should’ve been prepared when I signed up for being a detective. But… if something like that happened, wouldn’t it make the news…? Reality’s not the only thing that comes to the surface...That’s all. That’s the truth.”
“Keiji…” you said, “... you’re a good person.”
“Haha, what’s that supposed to mean?” Keiji asked.
You laughed, “Nothing.”
“Wait, really?!” Q-taro asked, “You can’t fire a gun?”
“Nope,” Keiji said, “Ever since, I get sweaty and dizzy and stuff.”
“I see…” Q-taro said.
“So you’re on board with Sara firing, right?!” Joe asked.
“Sorry,” Q-taro said, “Can’t trust her just yet.”
“Use your words to convince me,” Q-taro said, “Then I’ll see.”
“Understood!” Sara exclaimed.
Q-taro began to shout, “Can’t a highschool kid handle this?! I can’t trust somebody who’s got no experience with a gun! This ain’t fun and games!”
“Of course it’s not fun and games! I’m taking this seriously like everyone else!” Sara argued.
“Ugh!” Q-taro grunted, “We should leave it to Keiji! Or Joe! You do it! Kai! How about you?!”
“Keiji’s trauma means he isn’t able to point a gun at a person!” Sara counter-argued.
“Would you be able to trust your life in someone’s hands who can’t even trust himself?!” Sara continued.
“Dammit! That’s true!” Q-taro agreed, “Just havin’ motivation doesn’t mean nothin’! You guys don’t trust me?! You really got confidence?!”
“I do!” Sara exclaimed, “I can say this much loud and clear! I’m confident I can save everyone!”
“...! No value in trusting your life in somebody with no confidence,” Q-taro muttered, “But… Are you fine puttin’ everything on Sara?! Could be worse games to come! Like with monsters… right?!”
Sara put down her foot firmly, “Joe and Keiji have acknowledged me from the start!”
“And even now, that hasn’t been shaken!” Sara continued, “Q-taro, please, believe in me too!”
“Urgh…” Q-taro cursed, “Sara doesn’t trust others! Is there any chance she’ll win?! She might even end up shootin’ her own friend!”
“I do trust others!” Sara exclaimed.
“Then why don’t you let somebody else do it?!”
Sara let out a noise. Then the two fell onto their knees and gasped for air, panting.
“Are you two alright?!” you asked.
“Pant… I’m exhausted,” admitted Q-taro, “Bein’ honest and arguin’ it out is kinda refreshing, though.”
“Huh…?” Sara asked, also breathing with exhaustion.
“Well, the discussion’s been settled down,” Kai said, “Shall we have our vote soon?”
Keiji nodded, “Right. Sorry, I know you two are tired, but we should get started.”
The vote began.
“Well… seems it’s decided,” Q-taro said.
“There’d be no objections, right?” Keiji asked.
“Hahaha! Naturally!” Q-taro laughed, “Sara, hardly any kids these days can make themselves as clear as you can. I feel like I can bet on you!”
“Q-taro…!” Sara gasped.
“What a cool thing to say,” Keiji chuckled.
“Man, looking at you guys makes me feel like I’m bein’ selfish,” Q-taro mused.
Joe smiled, “Alright! Good luck with the rest Sara! It’s all riding on you!”
“...Right! Leave it to me!” Sara huffed.
“Well then, shall we take our seats?” Kai asked.
The three of them sat. Kai, Q-taro, and Keiji climbed up the ladder, while Joe sat on the vacant seat that was rooted to the ground.
“Sara,” you said, “Come here.”
She walked towards you. You placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Sara,” you said, “I might not completely agree, but… be careful.”
She nodded, “I will.”
After a brief hearing of the rules, you mapped out a strategy in your mind.
‘I know what order they’re supposed to go in,’ you thought, ‘Sara… I hope you do too…!’
You focused entirely on Sara, praying that she wouldn’t… you didn’t dare to finish the thought.
Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!
“Hehe… my heart was about to explode.”
“Whew… feeling numb.”
“Hah... now I’ll be okay.”
And so basically, a hand was earned. Literally. You collapsed against the wall, sighing.
“Thank God,” you murmured, “It’s over.”
‘And you were completely useless .’
You hated that. So much.
You turned towards the source of the voice.
“Ah, Sara,” you said, hugging her, “Glad you’re alright. You too Joe.” You pulled him into the hug.
“Yay, hugs!” Joe cheered.
“Yay…” you said, “Sorry guys. Kinda drained.
“Same…” Sara agreed, “But I just noticed…”
“Oh! You can play darts here! Darts and billiards are cool, aren’t they?!” Joe asked.
She took the dart and the revolver, firing it at the dartboard. It let out a victory noise.
“Congratulations! Congratulations! A fantastic bullseye! For hitting a bullseye, you get a wonderful gift! Please look into the hole!”
The three of you looked into the hole. You saw something sticking out in the darkness. You grabbed it as you saw it was… a left leg. You grabbed it as you almost dropped it in shock, not expecting to pull out a body part.
“YAH!” Joe shouted in terror, “That’s fr… freakin’ nothing! I’m not freaked out at all! Sheesh… all these incomprehensible set ups. It’s just a fake leg, huh? I’ll hold onto it. It’s heavy, huh?”
“Wow, fantastic,” you murmured, “Hey, let’s go and explore some more.”
“Good idea,” Joe agreed.
As the three of you exited the room, you spotted a familiar little girl carrying a familiar hoodie.
“...Sara…” Kanna mumured.
“Kanna…!” Sara exclaimed.
“You’re awake,” you said, fidgeting with your headphones.
“H-hey… is it okay for you to be up?” Joe asked.
“I… I…” Kanna whispered.
“Did something happen in the hall?” Sara asked.
“I just… really wanted to ask you…” Kanna said softly, “About my sister… please… give me an answer… Back then… could Kanna have… actually saved her sister...?”
Sara stayed silent. You didn’t know, for you took a different test that Sara, Joe, and Kanna. While they had the option to save the other person… you didn’t.
“I was disoriented… so I didn’t hear what the others said,” Kanna continued quietly, “But you and Joe… and Mishima and Nao… you all had the same trial, right…? Kanna… could Kanna have saved her?”
Sara looked uneasy, her gaze shifting. Joe comfortingly holding her hand. You gulped and began to speak.
“Well, while I didn’t have the same trial as you,” you said, “I thought about the process in my head. And Joe told me a bit about it. You could have—”
“Oh my, Miss Kanna. Reko and Nao were looking for you, you know.”
You turned to see Professor Mishima walking up from behind you.
“...ah…” Kanna murmured.
“Wha?” you asked.
“I heard you talking here, so I came over,” he said.
Kanna hesitated, “...Mr. Mishima… please tell me… I…”
“You were unlucky, Miss Kanna,” he said.
“Eh…?” Kanna asked.
“Huh?” you murmured under your breath.
“Because we had only one key, we… we had to remove the other restraints by force,” Mishima said.
‘He’s lying,’ you thought, ‘That’s not even possible. By the looks of it, neither he nor Nao are physically capable of ripping off a restraint that even Sara or Joe couldn’t get out of. And Joe indirectly confirmed it was a puzzle. Why—?’
“...Luckily Miss Nao had myself,” Mishima went on, “and Miss Sara had Joe.”
“Wait, what—” you started to say.
He waved a hand at you, telling you to shut up.
“dUe to our having a strong man, we barely managed to survive,” Mishima lied smoothly.
Kanna shook her head furiously, “N... No…! That’s a lie… it can’t be…”
“I...it’s not a lie! This is the truth, Kanna!” Joe added.
You looked at him, confused. You saw the telltale sign of his eyebrows furrowing. He was lying.
Mishima spread his hands, “I suppose it was a trial of… both assessing the situation, and of might. For you and our sister… it was a trial with hardly any chance of success.”
“I… I don’t believe it!” Kanna squeaked firmly, “I won’t! You’re all trying to deceive me…”
“It’s true, Kanna…” Sara said.
‘You too ?’ you thought, ‘Wait… what’s—?’
“S… Sara…” Kanna whimpered.
“E...even if it sounds like a lie… it won’t change the reality…” Sara fibbed, “We’re all telling you… the truth…”
That seemed to shock the girl into silence.
‘She must trust Sara a whole lot to believe her that easily,’ you thought.
“Miss Kanna… you regret it, yes?” Mishima asked.
“I… Kanna…” Kanna whispered, “...killed her sister…! Her sister was frantically trying to help! But Kanna’s an idiot… She didn’t listen...!”
“You’re not an idiot, Kanna,” you said, her head shifting towards you.
“What was your sister like…?” Mishima asked.
Kanna stayed silent, then said, “...Sister… My sister was… kind… Even when we fought… she’d never be cruel…! She was always thinking about Kanna! Why… didn’t she use the key for herself...?!”
“Was it not your very existence that gave you sister happiness?” Mishima prompted.
The little girl looked shocked.
“Miss Kanna, I can sense you were very loved as if it were in the air,” Mishima continued, “Surely… surely you were raised with utmost care, were you not? I’m sure she was a wonderful sister.”
Kanna began to sniffle and cry. Your overcaring instincts began to kick in.
“Miss Sara, if you were her sister, what would you say to her?” Mishima asked.
“Kanna…” Sara started, “You being there… let me be strong even in hard times. I’m sure… even if we’re apart, I’ll be somewhere in your heart. So… don’t give in…!”
“... Sis...ter…” Kanna mumbled, “...I miss you… Sister…”
“Now, the time for blaming yourself has passed,” Mishima said, “Your sister is surely watching you from somewhere.”
“Kanna… Kanna won’t give in...!” Kanna shouted, “Because… her sister is watching...!”
“Kanna!” a voice shouted.
You turned to see it was Reko.
“Reko…” Kanna murmured.
“Dammit, you nutty professor!” Reko shouted, “What happened to ‘shout when you find her’?!”
“Oh dear, it appears I’m being yelled at,” Mishima said sorrowfully.
“That’s not it, Reko…” Kanna explained, “Come and I will explain…”
“Hrm?” Reko asked, “R-really…? Um, okay…”
“Oh! I--Y/N!” Kanna squeaked, “Th-thank you for lending me your hoodie! And… thank you for reassuring me earlier.”
“No problem,” you said, taking your hoodie back. You sneezed. “Guess I kinda need it because of the cold.”
The two of them walked away. Mishima sighed and turned to the three of you.
“I will return to searching, myself,” Mishima declared.
“Professor Mishima…” Sara said, “Thank you very much.”
“No, I’m thankful to you,” Mishima said, “That I was able to make something of it with you two following along. You resemble her older sister, Miss Sara. Please… take the role of her older sister until we escape.”
Sara looked surprised.
“And Joe… her younger brother.”
You swore, if not for the situation, you would’ve snorted.
“Oi… not even her younger brother…?” Joe asked.
Though, Miss Y/N why didn’t you say anything?” Mishima asked.
“Because I’m not a liar,” you told him.
“Y/N…!” Sara gasped, “Hey, it’s…”
“I would’ve told her the truth,” you said bitterly, “I’m not…”
“It’s nothing. Nothing at all.”
“...I’m not one who keeps things from others,” you finished, “Yes, you’ve cheered her up for now. But what would happen when she discovers the truth?”
“...I see,” Mishima murmured, “Well, then. I’ll take my leave now.”
He walked away. You turned to the two younger underclassmen behind you.
“Why?” you asked, “Why lie?”
“How about we not talk about it for now?” Joe suggested, “And let’s… let’s keep searching.”
You scanned their ashamed faces. You sighed.
“Alright,” you said, “We’ll drop it for now. Let’s keep searching.”
“Thank you I love you,” Joe said, hugging you.
The three of you walked into the bar. Sara crouched down and looked at the sliding door.
“Hey, Joe?” she asked, “Could you open this?”
“Sure!” he exclaimed, tugging it open with ease.
He reached inside and pulled out a cigar cutter.
“Hm? What is this?” he asked.
Sara took it into her hands, “I think I’ve seen it online before. You use it to cut open cigars.”
“Hey, there’s something else!” Joe said.
He pulled out a leg.
“WAUGH!” he shouted.
“Ha, scared?” you asked drily.
“N-no!” he squeaked.
“You are,” you drawled.
“No you!” he exclaimed.
“Oh, wait,” you said, pulling out the cigar from your jean pocket, “Use this.”
“Um… I don’t know how to use it,” Sara chuckled uneasily.
“Well, I don’t smoke either,” you said, “I’ll ask Professor Mishima.”
You took the two items and took it to the gray haired man behind the bar.
“M-miss Y/N!” he gasped, “Is that a cigar?! H-hand it over to me. I also see that cutter and lighter in your jean pocket!”
“Wat?” you asked, “You see that?”
“Fork it over!” he exclaimed.
You gave him the items as he giggled strangely and held them.
“I was wondering if you could cut open the cigar so we could observe it,” you said, gesturing towards your underclassmen.
He cut it open, and disappointment was clear on his face that there was a 1000 yen bill inside. You took it, breathed, and sneezed due to the cigar powder.
“Since this is not usable…” the professor said, “You can have these back.”
“Actually,” you said, “You two. You keep searching. I wanna talk to Professor, here.”
Sara nodded, “Okay… be careful… Y/N. You’re… okay, right?”
“I’m still disappointed in you two, so…” you trailed off.
You sat on a bar stool and faced the professor.
“So…” you said, “I get why you lied, but… why? It makes no sense to lie to her. She’s gonna find out.”
He faced you, “Miss Y/N… I understand you’re a, ah, a defender of the truth, but… she’s in a weak mental state. Telling her the truth would destroy her.”
You nodded, “I get that. But the truth will also destroy her later.”
“Understandable,” Mishima agreed, “I can tell. We think similarly.”
“I see that as well,” you murmured, tracing a circle on the table, “We should chat more about these things, eh?”
“Agreed,” he chuckled.
“Mom!” Gin squeaked, “What are you doing meow! I told you I’m fine woof!”
“No worries,” you reassured, “I needed to talk with the professor here.”
“Did he do something woof?!” he barked, “I’ll fight him, meow!”
“Nah, it’s fine,” you said.
The door slammed open.
“Everyone!” Joe exclaimed, “We’re gonna start attaching the body parts now!”
“Well now… we’re finally doing it,” murmured Keiji.
“Well, actually… where have the two of you been?” Joe asked Sou.
Sou smiled, “Oh, just… found a hidden room.”
“Sou! You’re okay!” Sara exclaimed.
“Oh, thank God,” you said, “I thought you died.”
“Glad everyone’s safe too,” Sou replied, “I should be asking you.”
“My hearts beating so fast…” Mishima commented, “What could possibly happen...?”
“Are you sure that’s safe?” you suggested.
“I’m sure it’s the adrenaline in my veins,” the former said.
“Mhm?” you asked.
“I got the door open just in case,” Reko said.
“We’re not closing it?” you asked.
“So our escape route’s secured!” Q-taro bellowed, backing Reko up.
‘Something doesn’t feel right.’
Keiji sighed, “Well, onto the fateful moment… let’s roll.”
He started attaching the body parts. Everyone waited for a few quiet moments as nothing happened. Your gut lurched.
‘Something’s not right.’
You sneezed, “Achoo! What is that smell?”
“Yeah, you guys smell somethin’?” Q-taro asked.
“...huh?!” Nao squeaked.
“Hey… is it just me, or is the room going white?!” Joe asked.
‘Wait… what the?!’
Nope. White smoke was pouring out of the pink heart shaped vent. It fogged up your vision as you couldn’t see anymore.
“It’s not just you!” you confirmed.
“It’s gas…!” Keiji gasped.
Sou tensed next to you, “P… poison?! Not good… we need to leave this room...!”
‘Shouldn’t the gas be emptying out through the door?’ you thought.
“What should we do?!” you hissed towards Mishima.
“I’m afraid I’m not sure,” he murmured uneasily.
“It’s not poison gas, everyone. So please relax.”
The smog cleared as you blinked furiously. As your vision cleared, you saw a tall woman with heterochromatic eyes: her right red and her left yellow. She had a crown placed on the left on her head, the style of it looking like it was melting. Her dress and sleeves looked like melting chocolate, complimenting her yellow gloves, red skirt, and yellow scarf. A red ribbon was tied around her neck while a yellow one adorned her waist.
“Ahahaha. Good day,” she greeted.
Of course, you said something stupid.
“What is that?!” you asked, gesturing everywhere at who knows what.
You stared at the woman’s sad outfit. It was a bit classy, but looked like a melting ice cream. In other words, to you it screamed “what the fuck”. Okay, you admitted her outfit looked cute, but what was with all the melting stuff going on and how the heck did her hair curl up in the back like that?!
“You’re heterochromatic?” you asked, “That’s so cool! Isn’t that a rare trait?”
“H-huh?! You’re…” Joe stuttered, “The doll?!”
You froze. You remembered.
“Oh crap, I threw her head!” you hissed, scrambling behind Joe.
“Heehee, yes. I’m the doll you just rescued,” the woman said, “Advanced, am I not?”
“You might regret throwing her head around earlier,” Mishima said, “You might lose yours.”
“Gee, thanks,” you said drily.
“Haaaah?!” Reko snarled, “The hell’s going on here?!”
The doll giggled, “Ahaha. As it happens, I’ve been revived to tell you what is happening and to support you through your next trials and tribulations.”
“Stay away from me, you creepy-ass puppet!” Reko shouted.
“She looks pretty human to me,” you remarked.
“Ehehe…” the doll laughed again, “There’s nothing to be afraid of. You have all my support…”
Nao started to wheeze, her face queasy.
“Are you okay?” you asked, putting a hand on her shoulder.
“Ahaha…” the doll sighed, “Is there no one who can speak calmly around here?”
“Taking in the fact we saw a doll come to life isn’t the most reassuring thing,” you said drily.
The woman-doll laughed, “Ehehe! How funny! You’re very amusing for a newcomer, Miss Y/N.”
“I’ll ask,” Sara said, “Just what are you?
“Tell the friendly policeman too,” Keiji added, “I’m not really following here…”
The doll laughed again, “Ehehe. We’ll start with my introduction… Hee hee. My name is Sue Miley, the Laughing Doll. I will guide you on this floor.”
‘Her laughing is kinda annoying.’
“Ehee. My master has instructed to guide you brave souls, who have already passed many trials, to the Main Game,” Sue Miley continued.
Keiji scratched his neck, “Your master… meaning you’re on the side of the kidnappers.”
“S...So you’re our enemy?!” Joe sputtered, “Don’t try and say you’re not!”
“Ahaha! How very serious! Ahaha!”
‘Wow, she’s laughing a lot.’
Reko flipped Miley off, “Stop laughing, asshole! Wanna die?!”
“Hee hee hee… I’d rather not,” she giggled, “No… I wouldn’t want to be all torn up again. Ehehe. I have to tear you all up first.”
“The fuck?” you whispered.
“Tear us up…?!” Reko squawked.
“Ahaha… as a warning, yes.”
There was a vibrating noise. You turned towards Joe, who was frantically touching his neck.
“...Wha?!” he asked, “M-my collar’s… vibrating…!”
“What did you do?!” you asked Miley, looking at Joe’s neck.
“Ehehe…” the doll laughed, “Anyone will do… if it’ll keep you all quiet.”
“W...what did you do?!” Joe asked.
“Eheehee… what indeed?” she asked.
Joe clutched his neck, “Hey! Answer me!”
“Ahaha! Oh very well,” Miley sighed, “I’m just making your collar explode. That’s all. Ahaha. Ahaha.”
You began to run as Mishima held you back.
“Get off me!” you exclaimed, “Joe!”
“H...huh?! No way…?! Wha…?!” Joe asked, “Gh… get it off! This… thing!”
You felt nothing. Then it felt like you were gone. Your stomach caved in. Your face paled. You felt like screaming and crying.
“Please!” you begged, “Dont—!”
“Ahahah! Get away, get away! It’s dangeroooooous!” Miley laughed.
“Stop!” you shouted, “I’ll—!”
Your heart was beating fast. Very fast. Too fast. Was he going to die? No. No. It can’t be. You didn’t even apologize to him yet.
BEEP BEEP BEEEEEEEEP
After the sound ended, Joe just started to pant.
“Eeeheehee,” Miley giggled, “That was a lie of course. Did you enjoy it.”
“What?” you asked hoarsely, going limp and falling to the floor.
“A… lie…” Joe breathed harshly as he turned pale.
Joe’s knees gave way as he fell to the floor.
“Joe…” you said hoarsely.
“That collar can’t actually explode, after all,” Miley said.
“You piece of shit…!” Reko snarled.
“Don’t attack her!” you exclaimed, “With these collars, we’re sitting ducks.”
“I agree,” Mishima said.
Miley let out a burst of giggles, “AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA! Eheh. It’s so funny, ahah, I can’t even talk, mweeheheheeeeeeeee.”
“She out of her mind, meow...” Gin squeaked softly.
“Who’s your master?” Sara asked.
“Ehe… you don’t know, do you…” Miley cooed, “Ehee… what I’m about to explain… is in regards a fight you must take, ahaha, for your destiny. You will soon undergo a great trial to escape outside. As it has been prior, the superior will live, the inferior will die— it is far from easy. One among you… will certainly die. And the person to die… shall be decided by your own majority vote.”
“Eh….?” Kanna asked.
“I’m saying that you’ll pick it yourselves,” Miley clarified, “The one who is most unnecessary, hated, and acceptable to have die.”
“Stop talkin’ nonsense…!” Q-taro bellowed, “Like we’re gonna do somethin’ like that!”
“Ahaha. By all means. Starve to death here, all of you,” Miley giggled.
‘That’s painful,’ you thought.
“Whoa. Just laying it there on the table,” Keiji sighed.
Everyone went silent. No one knew what to say.
“Ahaha! Don’t go so pale, everyone! I’ve got something good to hand out!” Miley exclaimed, “Ahaha. Here, Sara Chidouin. Have this tablet.”
You watched as Sara was handed a tablet. Then more tablets were given to everyone else.
“Here you are, Miss Y/N L/N,” she said, handing you a tablet.
“Screw off,” you hissed.
Soon, everyone had one.
“Ehehe, does everyone have one now?” Miley asked, “Now, let’s test their functionality with some actual use. When voting, if you know who voted for who, it turns into a quarrel, doesn’t it? “Eheehee… thus, by voting with these tablets, you won’t know who made what vote. Ehehe. As a test. Try voting for whoever!”
“Miss Nao,” Mishima whispered, “How about we all vote for me? That way it’s safer.”
“W-why?” Nao asked.
“We don’t know what will happen,” Mishima said.
“I-I—” Nao hesitated.
“Vote for me then,” you whispered.
Nao turned to look at you incredulously, “Y-Y/N!”
“If you wanna test it, do it,” you said.
You pulled out your tablet. You looked at everyone’s faces. You pressed down on yours. You showed them. Then you gestured for them to do it. Mishima pressed on his and so did Nao. You watched as the votes came in.
Sara: 1 vote
Joe: 1 vote
Keiji: 1 vote
Kanna: 1 vote
Q-taro: 1 vote
Sou: 0 votes
Reko: 1 vote
Nao: 0 votes
Kai: 1 vote
Gin: 1 vote
Mishima: 1 vote
Y/N: 3 votes
Most votes: Y/N, 3 votes
“Welp,” you breathed, “Nothing I can do about it.”
“Y/N!” Sara shouted, “What—?”
“Well, Miss Y/N,” Miley sighed, “I had big hopes for you. Unfortunately, your time has come to an end.”
“A pity,” you said, “So what’s going to happen?”
“Y/N!” Joe shouted, “What are you doing?”
“Testing something so you guys know what to do next time,” you swallowed, “Don’t fuck up anymore, okay?”
“Are those you’re last words?” Miley asked.
The collar on your neck seemed to grow hot. You swallowed harshly.
“Love you guys,” you said hoarsely.
“Y/N, wait!” Sara cried, stumbling forward, “You can’t—”
The collar got hotter. So it wasn’t your imagination. It was actually burning up. Oh. Oh shit. You felt it sear through your neck like it was being torn apart. Hot air began to touch the rest of your skin as your neck burned. You couldn’t breathe. Your cooked flesh smelled repulsive. You can’t breathe. You can’t breathe. You’re choking. It hurts. It’s tearing you apart. You can barely see or hear. You shove Sara and Joe away and back into a corner. Your eyes… are they tearing up? You can’t tell. It’s burning. It hurts. It’s so hot. It’s suffocating.
You can’t breathe.
You fall over as you stop breathing at all.