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Coincidential Connection

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You blinked, opening your heavy-lidded eyes. Sitting up in the big bed, you blinked blearily and looked to see Sara and Keiji standing at the foot of your bed. Rubbing your tired eyes Sara handed you Itsuki’s hat and your headphones.

“How was your nap?” Sara asked while fixing a strand of hair in her face.

You smiled, beginning to reply--

“𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠? 𝐒𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐞𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤, 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐢𝐜 𝐟𝐨𝐨𝐥.”

A sharp voice rang out throughout the room which caused you to slightly straighten on instinct. You stopped, your smile naturally frozen as your eyes carefully slid over to the other side of your bed. A shadow stood, small but powerful. Someone you hadn’t seen in years. You nodded as your hair fell onto your features, hiding your shrinking smile.

“Fine,” you told Sara as you slid out of the bed.

Sliding on Itsuki’s hat and placing the headphones on your neck, you looked into the mirror. Swallowing back uneasily, you stared at your gaunt reflection in the mirror.  You started to walk out as you glanced back. The image waved at you as you twitched. You looked forward and marched out.

“Nice place,” you remarked quietly while playing with your headphone string which trailed down towards your knees.

“I admit it is,” your friend replied as the three of you got out to the main area.

It looked like a comfy hotel, a few tables and couches here and there with a light shining down. A few lamps here and there and some nice ferny plants. Someone’s singing voice drifted around the room with a beautiful melody. You shifted your gaze to see Reko, Nao, and Gin on the couch.

‘Her singing is pretty,’ you thought listlessly as you spotted someone approaching you.

“....Entranced by it, Y/N L/N?” a familiar “Yamada Gonbee” asked as he stationed himself next to you. “Hmph. You look terrible.”

“Hey Alice. I could tell,” you replied while looking back to Reko on the couch.

“Alice…” Sara murmured as Keiji smiled.

“Why’re you listening in from the wall? Isn’t she your sister?” the policeman asked, raising an eyebrow.

You shrugged limply. “It’s probably… complicated.”

“Right she is, you buffoon of a cop,” Alice growled lowly as he glared at the blonde. “We’re complete strangers now! Reko is… surely singing with pure feelings out of grief for the dead. I don’t care to introduce any unnecessary distraction with my presence.”

“Pretty conscientious of your sister, eh?” the blonde commented while looking away.

“Alice,” you said while playing around with your headphone string. “I don’t want to intrude on your family business, but do you want to stay strangers with your sister? Especially in a situation like this?”

Said man huffed with indignation as his face twisted with annoyance. “I told you it’s none of your business… just… what do you all think of Reko?”

“Huh? She’s… a kind person,” Sara answered with a raised brow.

“Mwahahaha… I see,” the rainbow haired man murmured to himself while nodding with the smuggest grin you had ever seen.

“‘Course she’s got no mercy for men. Like Mr. Policeman over here,” Keiji said as he pursed his lips in a playful manner. “Kind to the weak and harsh on the strong, that’s the kind of impression I get for her.”

“She’s… very mature and caring?” you said as you tilted your head. Then you winced. “Sorry, I’m a dumbass. I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

“No, you’re right…” Alice said with a soft look in his eyes. “She was… different before.”

“Was she harsh on everyone?” your friend asked softly while looking at Alice.

The man nodded. “That’s right. Since Reko’s birth, she’s been brimming with vitality, and had talents in music and charming others. She was harsh on herself… but especially harsh on those who didn’t act without regard for whether they were weak. She’s undergone a startling change.”

“Due to your murder case, I take it...?” Keiji guessed while looking at Alice straight in the eyes.

The latter flinched as you tightened a grasp on your arm. “Mwhaha… exactly right... Sorry to make you hear these trifles.”

“No, it’s fine,” you told him quietly while fiddling with your fingers. “I think… I’ve gotten to know you and Reko better.”

“Y/N!”

You turned at the sound of your name to see Reko, Nao, and Mishima walking up to you.

“Y/N, you came to!” Reko exclaimed while giving you a kind smile.

“I’m glad everyone’s safe…!” Nao sighed as she put a hand on her chest.

Mishima nodded in agreement. “Yes… but are you alright, Miss Y/N? You look ill.”

You opened your mouth to speak. “I--”

“Moooooooooooooooom!” a familiar voice shouted as a small body wrapped itself around your waist.

“You’re alright, right?!” Reko asked while placing a warm hand on Gin’s back.

“You don’t have to push yourself!” Nao reassured you while squeezing her eyes shut.

You didn’t say anything and just nodded as Sara laughed softly. After letting go, Sara hugged you from behind.

“I’m so glad…” she murmured into your ear as she shut her eyes. “I’m glad you’re okay.”

You nodded again as Reko raised a brow. Sara laughed as she let go of you.

“I think she means she’ll be fine,” Sara translated while patting your head. “She’s a little tired.”

“I’m here Mom, woof!” Gin cheered while squeezing your torso again. “Don’t worry!”

Your eyes glanced at Alice, who was simply staring at the scene with wide eyes. Reko followed your gaze to look at Alice. She frowned as you stayed silent and watched.

“...the hell you lookin’ at?”  she asked lowly as Alice blinked.

“E-er, sorry…” he murmured before scurrying away, his chains jingling in his wake.

You stepped into the conversation. “Ah, he was just trying to see if I was okay--”

“Y/N, you don’t have to lie for that bastard…” Reko told you, pointing a finger at you. “He’s nothing but trouble.”

You shook your head. “No, it’s fine. I’m grateful that the both of you are concerned for someone like me.”

Reko huffed and placed her hand on her hip. “Tell me if he bothers you and I’ll talk to him.”

‘She’s not listening to me,’ you thought while petting Gin’s head.

“So, did anything happen while I was asleep?” you asked while looking around at the room. “Sorry, I just…”

“Nothin’ yet,” Reko replied while looking at the room around. “After that awful Main Game, we’ve just been off by ourselves resting.”

“We were given rooms for every person, so…” Nao informed you while fidgeting by herself. “We carried you here and were standing by…”

Mishima pat you on the shoulder. “You have nothing to worry about. Just relax.”

“But that bad doll girl is nowhere to be found, woof,” Gin told you while holding your hand. “Should we look for her, meow?”

You pressed your lips together and thought to yourself. ‘There’s no need to look for her. It’s better that way, anyway.’

“We should check if this place is safe, first,” Sara told us while smiling at you. “Some trap might already be set in motion…”

Keiji laughed to himself while looking away. “...Sheesh, I was about to say don’t overdo it. But you’re getting serious quick, Sara. You’ve been fretting over both Joe and Y/N, and you haven’t been resting.”

You felt a cold chill in your ear. Joe. How could you forget about Joe? Were you that thoughtless? You should’ve checked on him first before getting sleep. You were so stupid. How could you do that? And you didn’t check up on Sara. She was tired. She was caring for you. God, why didn’t you say something sooner?

 

[Guilt meter: 20%]

 

Keiji broke the silence that you heard in your head. “Alright, sitting around isn’t my style either. Let’s take caution when exploring the area.”

“What about Joe?” you asked while gripping Gin’s hand a bit tighter. “Where… where is he?”

“Joe is still asleep, but he is fine,” Mishima replied while pushing up his glasses. “No need to worry, he isn’t in life-threatening condition.”

“Should… should I go check up on him…?” you asked as your feet twitched. “I mean, it’s my fault--”

“It’s fine,” Sara told you while placing both of her hands on your free hand. “He’s sleeping. He’ll be fine. Let him… let him rest.” Her voice grew small, which concerned you.

“Okay…” you murmured as you turned your gaze away.

The group first entered a hallway. There was minimal lighting, many passages, and rubble scattered about. Q-taro stood out in the shadows, crouching in the corner as if looking for something.

“Ah! Y/N, you okay?!” Q-taro asked while giving you a thumbs up.

You nodded while staying silent. You gave a slow and quiet thumbs up back. Q-taro frowned and crossed his arms.

“Cheer up!” he exclaimed while nodding. “This isn’t like you!”

“Got it,” you said while smiling uneasily. “It’s just… I’m really, really selfish, you know? I’m not some cheery, happy-go-lucky girl.”

He grimaced and averted his eyes. “... ‘course, I know that. Sorry. I know you made your decision… I won’t judge ya because I know I would’ve done the same… you really suffered, hadn’t you? Wanting to live isn’t wrong! Miley’s just a piece of crap doll! Don’t ever blame yourself!”

You nodded while squeezing Gin’s hand. He rubbed up against you as you almost buckled under from how tight your chest was constricting.

‘Wanting to live isn’t wrong? Still, I… I killed him for that.’

“Thanks,” you mumbled with a wheeze, your mind swirling with delirium. “I…”

“Hey, it’ll be okay,” Q-taro told you while putting a hand on your shoulder. “Don’t sweat it. I’ll find something out about the kidnappers. You don’t have to carry Kai’s… wish alone. Got it?”

“Ye,” you replied hoarsely with a voice crack as the man bellowed with laughter.

“That’s the spirit!” he cried while turning back to search.

Gin nudged you shyly. “...that gorilla’s… actually a good guy, meow.”

“Uh huh,” you replied quietly as the group went to go investigate somewhere else. 

The next room was the medical room. There seemed to be glass panels on the walls, viewing some outside tropical island or something. There were cabinets and shelves with medicine and such, as well as a couch to the side.

“Heh, pretty flashy,” Keiji commented as he tapped a finger against a glass panel.

“It’s fake,” Sara informed us while getting up from the ground when observing the sand in the glass. “I guess it’s just to relax.”

You gazed at all the objects in the room and saw strange items and a weird looking machine. You decided it wasn’t worth your time and ignored it.

The group walked into a new room with an outdoor area viewed through a window. Alice sat, staring at the outside. Reko looked away.

“Ahh… I’m gonna look over there. Tell me when you wanna look somewhere else,” she told us as she walked away.

Sara and Keiji began to talk with Alice as you looked at where Reko left.

‘Shouldn’t they at least fix the rift between them? No, it’s not your place to tell them that, just forget it,’ you thought while patting Gin’s head.

“He really is a little scary, isn’t he…” Nao murmured as Mishima smiled.

“I prefer to get to know the person first,” the professor commented while spinning around his finger. “Then I can make a judgement on them.”

Nao gasped and nodded. “You’re right professor…!”

‘Mishima is a nice guy like Itsuki said,’ you thought while the weight on your head seemed to sink in. ‘Itsuki…’

Then the whole group moved on and went to a different room full of monitors. You began to count the amount of monitors in the room.

‘10 monitors…’ you thought while counting them. ‘That’s a lot. How rich is this organization? Well, no shit, they’ve got collars and everything.’

“Whoa… loads of monitors,” Keiji commented while observing the machine panel of buttons in front of him.

You glanced at the side of the room, seeing a familiar looking girl.

‘Kanna,’ you thought as the girl saw you and looked away. ‘...huh?’

“Almost like… some kinda security room, ain’t it?” Reko growled, looking irritated.

You looked around, healing a faint buzzing sound from one of the monitors. You began to approach one when one of the screens flashed to life.

“Huh? Who are you guys?” the woman on the screen asked.

‘That’s…’ you thought while looking to the side.

“Me?” “You?” Reko and Nao spoke at the same time while then looking at each other.

The computer Reko began to explain that she was an artificial intelligence, a replica of the real Reko with the same emotions, thoughts, and memories. Keiji informed the rest of the group that pictures identifying which AI whom the monitor belonged to were on the back. Immediately, you checked. Your heart thumped, beginning to beat fast as adrenaline surged within you and demanded you to search. Your hands and legs trembled as you moved to look.

‘Itsuki… or Haruka… hell, even Kai, ’ you thought as you scanned the backs of the monitors. ‘They’re… not here. Wait, that one’s blank?’

“Sister… why aren’t you here…?” Kanna asked timidly as she held her shoulders. “I… miss you too…”

“Joe doesn’t have one?” Sara murmured as she stared at the backs of the monitors.

‘That’s strange,’ you mused to yourself while stepping back from the monitors. ‘Why--’

A face with green hair and eyes and a strange hat popped up on a screen with a red background. They multiplied and spread throughout all the screens.

“Ah, ooh, ahh…!” the voice cried in distress. “Who was it?! Who went and started up the Reko AI…?!”

“W… what the?!” Reko shouted in alarm as she backed up from the monitors.

The voice gasped in shock. “I get it…! So then… Ranger…! It was you, wasn’t it…?!”

Another voice popped up at the back of the room as you turned around. “Hey, don’t get mad! Everybody seems pretty pleased, don’tcha think?” Another person with orange hair and eyes walked out of the shadows wearing a strange get-up: a weird dark orange-yellow hood, carrying weird little paper props and an ice cream toy, a vest, a pair of red gloves, a skirt with a jacket, and a familiar looking red apron. You blanched as you spotted the last item hanging on the person’s neck: Haruka's necklace.

“ɪᴛ’ꜱ ʏᴏᴜʀ ꜰᴀᴜʟᴛ.”

What was happening? Everything seemed to go around you. It seemed so surreal. She was dead. Kai was dead. They both died in your presence. Their deaths were brought from your hesitation. Your selfishness. 

‘Why… Why…?’ You searched the person head to toe, but didn’t find any clothes belonging to Itsuki. ‘...huh? Not there…?’

“Hey there! You bastards slept well?” the person asked while holding a prop in front of their mouth. “I’m the Dressup Doll, Rio Ranger!”

‘Those are belongings of the dead people,’ you thought while staring at Ranger’s outfit. A sick feeling of inner turmoil and queasiness bubbled in your chest.

Switching the props around, Ranger continued. “I’ll be supporting y’all on this floor. Best regaaaaards!”

Keiji looked around. “Err… what about Miley…?”

Ranger didn’t look fazed, but sounded annoyed. “Ehh? You prefer the ladies, do ya? Sheesh. Come over here, Safalin! For they so humbly requested a girl!”

The screens flashed. “Ahh, ohh, sniff... But I’m so angry at you right  now…”

“Yeesh, it’s creepy when they all talk at once,” Ranger commented while staring at the screens.

“C-creepy?! You’re so mean!”

“Just joshin’! You’re real cute, so move it already!”

Just when you thought Miley looked weird, you were met with this mess of green and white. A big hat with cream, a cherry, and a straw were sticking out on top. There seemed to be tears on the woman’s eyes.

‘Holy shit,’  you thought while you knew your eyes would bleed.

“D-do you meeean it?” the woman asked in an eager tone.

“NOW,” Ranger ordered, his voice shaking the room.

The faces on the screens disappeared as the woman introduced herself. “Good to meet you, everyoneee… I am the Vice Floor Master, the Crying doll, Tia Safalin.”

‘Are all their names like that?’ you thought as it randomly flew through your head.

“What a calamity!” Q-taro exclaimed as you had no idea how he got inside the room.

“Now this is perfect,” Ranger told us. “Let’s begin explaining the rules of Floor 3.”

‘We went up a floor?’ you thought while looking around. ‘Well… I did fall down a drop. So the more we progress, the closer to escape?’

“T-the rules of Floor 3…?” Nao asked, turning a magnificent shade of purple.

“Yep. You bastards are hyper on-edge after suspecting up a storm after the Main Game, right?” Ranger asked while looking around at the rest of us. “And so! We thought of some wonderful festivities for you to reconcile before the next Main Game!”

‘Another one? So soon?’

“𝐘/𝐍. 𝐘𝐨𝐮’𝐫𝐞 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬.”

Reko jumped in shock as she looked at Ranger. “Wait! We’re doing one again?! A Main Game…?!”

“All depends on you asshooles!” Ranger cried while putting on a different prop with a masculine face. “Hahaha! Whazza matter? My face scare you? C’mon, Sara Chidouin!”

“Before your stupid explanation… take that off…!” the girl cried as she pointed at Kai’s apron. “Isn’t that Kai’s apron?!”

Ranger stayed silent and put up a new prop up over his eyes. He took it off and showed his eyes full of hysteria, mania, and despair. His voice filled up with laughter and some form of mockery.  “Sure enough… you recognized this apron?”

You took your hand out of Gin’s and placed him behind you.

You suddenly felt queasy, staring at the thing adorning Ranger’s waist. You had the urge to rip it off, but you could be reprimanded for breaking the rules. You felt a sick and twisted feeling burning in your chest as you looked uneasily at the apron. And especially that necklace. The one you had seen one on her neck for years. Just… you could’ve just ripped the apron off when you wanted.

‘Stop caring about the rules.’

“Yeah, it feels nice… it’s full of the dead’s regrets…” Ranger commented while smoothing out his shirt. He laughed.

“That skirt… it must be sister’s…” Kanna murmured while staring longingly.

Ranger just stared. “What. You bastards got any right to condemn me?” He swiveled towards you, eyes swirling, seeming to suck you in. “Huh? Y/N?”

“Nothing,” you replied, face stiff as Ranger just laughed tauntingly.

“Topic’s donezo! Everybody come meet me behind the monitors!” Ranger exclaimed as he walked off.

‘Damn,’ you thought while gripping your hand into a fist. The hopelessness and the dread you felt began to crush you. You wanted to fall to the ground and curl up within yourself. The tension was too much and you couldn’t take it anymore.

Something tugged at your hoodie. “𝐘/𝐍.”

You turned around to look below you and tried not to make a sound.

“𝐘/𝐍. 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐞.”

Moving along, you trudged to the next room as you saw a screen with pictures of all of the survivors. You swallowed to see a red number 50. There was a counter with a man standing there with a prominent mustache. You tried not to stare as you looked at the available items. Some plastic stars with a blue 30’s, video tapes with blue 20’s, and a ticket for a blue 10. You gazed at all the photos and looked at everyone in the room. Sara tapped your shoulder.

“Where’s Sou?” she asked as you shrugged limply.

“Should I… go look for him?” you whispered as you scanned the room.

Sara frowned and pondered in thought. “It’s fine… we’ll tell him later.”

You observed her face with a strange look. ‘Is she still bothered by the Main Game? Sou did hold some sort of animosity towards her. But why is he so bothered by it? Past experience?’

You put a finger to your chin.

“Hm, let’s make--!”

You blinked as a few words and a sharp pang ran through your head. Rubbing your head, you arched your brow in confusion.

‘...huh?’

“Whoa! Who is that?!” Reko asked, pointing at the man behind the counter.

Ranger popped up and began to explain. “That’s the Receptionist Doll. And this is the Prize Exchange! Safalin, hand those things out.”

“Okaaaay…” the woman said as she gave us a wallet. “Those are Me-Tokens. Everyone has been given 100.”

You shook the wallet, hearing something jingling inside. Zipping it open, you took out coins with your face on all of them.

Keiji put back his tokens in his wallet. “Huh… so let me guess, you can trade these tokens for the prizes on display here?”

“Correct! Just what I expected from you!” Ranger cheered, face still impassive. “The prizes are related to clearing Floor 3, and personal information files... and more!”

Keiji looked to the side. “You’re making personal information into prizes?”

“However…” Ranger said, prolonging what he wanted to say.

“You cannot trade for prizes with your own tokens,” the Crying Doll finished with a wobbly grin.

“You can only use tokens you get from others!” Ranger added while showcasing the pictures on the wall. “And if you get a lot from somebody, you can nab that person’s personal info. Those tokens signify trust. All y’all bastards are gonna be selling, buying, stealing, and surrendering those suckers! In short, it’s a game of buying and selling trust!”

‘“Buying and selling trust”…’ you repeated in your head with a frown.

“Buying and selling… trust…” Sara commented quietly as she looked at the coins in her hand. “How idiotic… surely there’s more to this.”

Q-taro raised a hand to gather all the attention. “I got an idea. If one of us gathers tokens and buys a prize, we can all share the info.”

“Ehh? Y’all are some friendly bastards,” the Dressup Doll commented to the side. “Well, too bad for you, that’s not all!”

“It’s personal info,” you spoke up while pocketing your wallet. “I’m sure… there’s people here that don’t want their info out.”

The baseball player let out a disgruntled grunt and stayed quiet. You looked away in discomfort.

“All of you will experience 11 attractions located around the Third Floor and earn the right to challenge the Main Game,” Safalin explained with a grin.

‘“Earn”?’ You thought while frowning. ‘Shit.’

“M… myow…?” Gin asked, flinching behind you.

“Whenever you clear an attraction, you’ll receive Clear Chips… and if you don’t collect 12 within the time limit, you’ll die before the Main Game starts!” Ranger concluded with a shout.

Nao turned pale as a ghost. “N… no…!”

Ranger put on his manly prop. “Ah, don’t worry, ya bastard! Unlike in the Main Game, if you do well, no one will die!”

“Most attractions require two,” Safalin informed us, her grin still present. “...However, one cannot do the same attraction twice.”

‘Huh,’ you thought while thinking in your head. ‘If I’m capable, I should be able to gather enough Clear Chips--’ you stopped and froze in place. ‘...huh?’

Keiji’s face turned ominous. “Tokens and Clear Chips… I’m starting to see what you’re getting at.”

Mishima raised a hand. “Question. What happens if we don’t trade tokens?”

Ranger shrugged. “Your loss! You lose valuable information!” He swapped props to a skull looking fragmented prop. “Now, get what you need to do? Clear attractions to collect 12 Clear Chips. Use the Me-Tokens you received however you want… though you can only trade with others’ tokens! By the way… the more tokens you get, the better. There’s a grand prize, too… A ticket to the surface! It’s a first-come first-serve, so if you snooze, you lose!”

‘Is it hidden?’ you thought as a million thoughts crashed into you all at once. ‘No, that’s not important--’

“Your time limit is 3 days! Relax! You’ve got plenty of food and clothes, and even time to rest, so sleep soundly!” Ranger explained with a cheery tone. “We won’t put any traps or other trickery in your rooms, so use ‘em freely! Now let the Sub-Game… The Trust Barter Game, begin!”

 

Day 1 | Morning

 

Ranger and Safalin turned around and retreated elsewhere. You snapped to attention and twitched.

“W-wait…!” you cried out as you saw that they were gone.

“What’s wrong?” Keiji asked, looking at you with a tilted head.

“Nothing,” you replied while shaking your head.

‘I could be wrong. I’ll go discuss with someone else first.’

“𝐃𝐨𝐮𝐛𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐧𝐨𝐰? 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐧. 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐮𝐫𝐞.”

“...attractions… should we go look for them?” Keiji suggested, prompting an idea to our group.

You nodded in agreement. “Yeah. Let’s.”

Exiting the room, a cracked monitor caught your eye. One of the monitors had cracks originating from an area on the screen. Shards of glass were scattered on the ground. The culprit was nowhere in sight.

“H… Hey! Wasn’t this totally fine before?!” Reko asked while observing the monitor.

“...whose monitor is this?” Keiji asked simply as he looked behind the machine with Sara.

The latter’s eyes widened. “It’s… ripped off…!”

“Reko, did you see who destroyed the monitor?” the blonde asked, looking at the AI version of her.

“Oi, back up! Sorry. I didn’t,” Reko muttered while looking at our Reko. “Sorry… I don’t know, something just went awry. Shit…!”

‘Awry…?’ you thought while staring at the monitor incredulously. ‘And that monitor, I remember. It’s--’

“Come to think of it... “ Nao spoke up quietly, maroon eyes darting around the room. “...I haven’t seen Sou…”

Reko gnashed her teeth in anger as she had this look to storm towards the exit and ravage the whole floor for him. “Him again…?! Dammit, what the hell is he after?!”

“Hmm… look for attractions, or look for Sou…” Keiji mused aloud as he looked upwards. “What do you think, Sara?”

‘What’s his attachment towards always asking Sara things?’ you thought, suddenly on alert. ‘I brushed it off as a joke, but now… it doesn’t feel right.’

“I’ll… search for Sou,” Sara said determinedly, a steely look in her eyes. “I don’t know what he wants from me or why he holds this malice towards me… I feel like… we can’t let him roam free.”

Keiji lightly laughed while rubbing his neck with his huge arms. “...that’s true. Sheesh, I would love to throw some cuffs on him and lock him up.”

Kanna walked forward, trembling in her small frame. “E-err… could all of you focus on attractions… while I search for Sou...?”

“Kanna…!” Reko exclaimed, a droplet of sweat sliding down her face.

The girl turned to look at Sara. “It’s natural of you to hate Kanna… but… she’ll at least keep an eye on Sou… please believe her…”

Another sudden chill swept over you as you felt a voice hiss at you. The words seemed to stab into your chest, making it hard to breathe. You felt your throat constrict as your stomach began to swirl in a sickeningly repetitive motion.

“ꜱʜᴇ’ꜱ ʟʏɪɴɢ.”

“ᴛʜᴇʏ’ʀᴇ ʜɪᴅɪɴɢ ꜱᴏᴍᴇᴛʜɪɴɢ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ʏᴏᴜ.”

“ᴀꜰᴛᴇʀ ʏᴏᴜ ᴋɪʟʟᴇᴅ ᴋᴀɪ ᴀɴᴅ ʜɪɴᴀᴋᴏ, ᴛʜᴇʏ ɴᴏ ʟᴏɴɢᴇʀ ᴡᴀɴᴛ ᴛᴏ ʙᴇ ꜰʀɪᴇɴᴅꜱ ᴡɪᴛʜ ʏᴏᴜ.”

A hand was outstretched towards you. “𝐘𝐨𝐮’𝐯𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐈 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭. 𝐈 𝐝𝐮𝐦𝐛, 𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐰. 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐦𝐞?”

“No way, Kanna!!” Reko exclaimed as she looked at the frail girl. “Don’t go near that guy on your own!!”

“It’s… my responsibility…” Kanna murmured as you swallowed and stepped forward.

“I… I’ll go,” you said, raising your hand. “I understand Sou. I’ll go look for him with Kanna.”

Keiji looked to the side and replied. “No, I recommend someone else.”

Sara moved forward and shook her head. “Keiji. I trust Y/N. What are you trying to say?”

You felt this feeling, a suffocating tension was rising. You couldn’t speak. It was like your voice was blocked. Your muscles went stiff and wouldn’t move.

“Normally, I wouldn’t mind,” Nao spoke up as she looked at you in desperation. “Sou isn’t a good person. Sou… has you right in his clutches, Y/N…! He’s going to use the two of you!” She kept looking on at you pleadingly. “You’ll get hurt again…!”

‘No, it wasn’t his fault. I took the Sacrifice card. I chose to save myself. Sou only tried to mess with the Main Game…!’

Kanna looked shocked. “You don’t… trust Kanna…?”

“Wait, hold on--” you started to say while holding your hands out. “This isn’t--”

“STOP THIS YOU GUYS!!” Alice shouted, his voice echoing across the room. The room went silent.  “All this tension is just what the kidnappers want! Are you dumb or what?! Looking at you… It’s like sisters quarreling… I hate it! Just reconcile! If only in appearance!! The feelings… can be appended after the fact!!”

You noticed Reko staring at Alice quietly as you slightly bowed towards Alice in thanks. You watched as Sara and Kanna apologized to each other as Kanna timidly looked at you. You stared at her and blinked.

“Wait, me?” you asked softly as you approached Kanna. “Kanna… I’m sorry for, uh, letting you down. I’m like… the most… terrible--”

“Y/N,” Kanna interrupted as she fiddled with her hands. “Kanna has to say sorry. Kanna and Sou… we tricked you. Sorry.”

“No, it’s fine,” you reassured her while taking her small hands. “I’ll be fine.”

“Well said, you two,” Reko told us in a proud tone. “And what pisses me off is Mr. Beanie. You guys just got used by him, right? Don’t feel too responsible, Kanna.”

“Uh…” you murmured as Kanna shook her head profusely.

“...that’s wrong,” she whispered, albeit a bit loudly. “Kanna and Y/N… tipped the scales…!”

“The scales…?” Keiji asked, eyeing us attentively.

“Kai said he had contact with the kidnappers,” Kanna explained, taking the steering wheel of the conversation. “But… he drew the Sage card and became the victim. I’m sure that means… he didn’t know all the details of the Main Game. But… Sou… Sou did know things about the game…!”

The policeman looked dangerously sick. You weren’t exactly sure what to discern of it. “What…?”

“Then... I found a glowing card behind the sliding door in the bar…” Kanna informed as she looked at you.

You rubbed your arm. “It’s true. Although this was a private conversation, it’s true. He did know things. I took the card with full knowledge that it was dangerous because he told me so. Sou gave Kanna the Commoner card while I took the Sacrifice. That’s all I know. I split up with them at the stairs and went with Sara.”

“He let me know about the Main Game that was going to happen…” Kanna told the group with a trembling voice. “I’m not sure why he didn’t inform Y/N, maybe he forgot. And… he devised a strategy to survive…! Everything was the way Sou explained it… that’s why… that’s why Kanna… Thought instead of Kai… Sou should be left alive…!”

That feeling again. A large pressure began to press in on you as your stomach tightened. You felt the urge to gag, a nauseous feeling welling up within you. You put a hand on your mouth and rubbed your stomach. Needles seemed to drive themselves under your skin. A chill seemed to pass by your ear as you felt nothing but the wanting to stay calm.

“𝐘/𝐍, 𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐞. 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐞.”

“ʏᴏᴜ’ʀᴇ ᴊᴜꜱᴛ ꜱᴏᴍᴇ ɢɪʀʟ ᴡʜᴏ ᴋᴇᴇᴘꜱ ᴛʀᴀɪʟɪɴɢ ʙᴇʜɪɴᴅ.”

“ʏᴏᴜ ᴋɪʟʟᴇᴅ ᴜꜱ.”

“Ouch!” Alice cried, clutching his ankle as he buckled over.

Reko looked over at him, tensing. “What’s wrong?”

“I, uh, hurt my… ankle! That’s it!” the inmate cried as his eyes went directly towards you. “You, Y/N! Come and help me!”

His sister stepped forward with a disapproving glare. “Hey, what are you trying to do?”

“I’ll help him,” you blurted out as you scuffled across the room to go help him. “We’ll go see if Sou is anywhere to be seen.”

The two of you walked out of the room as you eyed Alice’s leg. He caught you staring and smiled.

“And what are you looking at?” he asked as you stared pointedly at him.

“You’re not really hurt, are you?” you inquired as the man’s smile grew shrewd.

“Mwahaha… you caught me,” he told you as he took his weight off your form. “I couldn’t help but notice how you were trembling.”

You rolled your eyes, feeling a bit better for the first time on the Third Floor. “What? Did I look like a little sister figure or something?”

Alice didn’t reply as he looked to the side. “Is it wrong to worry?”

“Huh,” you breathed out loud as you looked at him strangely. “I don’t know, but… let’s search for Sou.”

The two of you wandered all the way to the room with a window viewing trees and plants. You noticed a small opening near the window.

“Hey, let’s go in there,” you told Alice, pointing towards the opening. “Maybe Sou got lost…?”

Alice shrugged while peering inside. “Are you sure? It’s a bit dark…”

“Scared?” you asked, trying to prod a reaction out of him.

“O-Of course not!” he cried in anger as he stormed inside first.

“Okay, I guess…” you said as you trailed in after him.

You looked at the rules on a wooden stand as Alice observed the area around the two of you.

 

Jungle Bungle- try to stay afloat on all the swinging vines and don’t get eaten by the monsters inhabiting the waters. Beware of the bats and birds that might shove you off. Try to get to the end of the jungle! Clear Chips: 3

 

“...should we turn back?” you asked, tapping the wooden post as you avoided a splinter of wood.

Alice shrugged as he looked inside. “What do you think, Y/N L/N?”

“No need to call me by my full name,” you told him as the two of you walked inside. “We’ll need to collect Clear Chips anyways, so let’s do this attraction.”

The moment you stepped in through the halls, the attraction started. Below was a pit full of swirling water, and there were trees with vines looming from above. 

“There’s something in the water…!” Alice informed you as there very much was something in the water.

“Let’s be careful,” you told him as he nodded uneasily.

You let Alice go first as he grabbed onto a vine. You looked to the left and grabbed another and let yourself dangle from the vine. The two of you started to make your way across when you noticed something.

“The water level is rising,” you told yourself and then snapped your head to look at Alice. “The water level is rising!”

The man gasped as he looked down and began to move faster. “Quickly, quickly! We have to go!”

Almost right after he said that, you ducked when some object whizzed by your head. You looked to see several flying creatures threatening to knock both you and Alice off the vines and into the water.

“Quick!” you told him as you pointed towards a path full of vines. “Go that way and hang low. The creatures won’t go near the water!”

“Got it…!” the man shrieked as he shimmied lower and began to progress faster.

You began to swing back and forth, trying to reach for a vine in your sight. You were pretty athletic, so it might work. Releasing yourself from the vine you clung to, Alice shouted as you flew across and quickly grappled onto another vine. Your stomach was flipping around with your heart beating so fast. You tilted your head and swung around to dodge any flying animals.

“Don’t do that ever again!” Alice cried as he traveled to another vine. He kicked away another creature as he avoided one as well. “You’ll give me a heart attack!”

“Uh, but the water level is rising,” you told him as you prepared to swing again. You headbutt another creature.

Alice seemed to gesticulate to show you and look at the ending area pointedly. To make his point come across, he firmly slapped another flying animal. You shrugged and began to swing again. Looking at Alice, you noted that he was progressing fast enough, albeit distracted at the creatures that swarmed him. You kicked one of the animals and leaped off another vine to attach yourself to another.

‘Ah, fuck,’ you thought as another creature hit you in the face. You shook your head as you suddenly slid down. ‘Whoa…!’

Gripping the vine tight, you felt a searing pain in your hands. Your heart wanted to beat itself out of your chest as you sighed. Squirming back up, you began to progress forward again. Avoiding the flying bats and birds, you managed to detect their pattern with ease. Soon, you and Alice managed to get to the end.

“These animals,” Alice grumbled as you got onto the platform where the attraction ended. He batted at a creature and started to move onto the platform when one hit him on his hand on the vine.  He let out a yell as you darted forward to catch his hand. The burn on your hand stung from the pressure of Alice’s weight as the man screeched.

“The water lever, the water level!!” he told you as you could see that the water had risen to his ankle.

You tried to yank him onto the platform as hard as you could. A loud grunt escaped you as you managed to haul him upward. You let out a sigh and gasped at the sight of his wet ankle.

“You’re bleeding…!” you gasped as you saw the slice on the flesh above his foot. “I’m so sorry…!”

“Y/N L/N,” he said as you began to rip the fabric off of your pants near your ankle. His eyes twitched. “Hey!”

“Yeah…?” you asked as you wrapped the piece of cloth around the slice. “Sorry about the--”

“No, you--!” he started to say as he shook his head. “You don’t… have to apologize.”

You blinked as you finished bandaging his wound. “O-oh… we should get you to the medical room, huh?”

“We should,” he replied as he stood up.

You went to a table with the Clear Chips and handed two over to him. You placed the other one in your wallet as Alice chuckled to himself. A walk board suddenly extended itself out of the wall which let the two of you slowly make your way over to the other side. Alice looked at your hands and pointed.

“There’s a rope burn there, Y/N,” he told you as you flipped your hands to look at the raw red marks.

“It’s fine, I’ll get it treated,” you told the inmate as the two of you walked out.

 

[Alice: +10% | 60%]

 

As the two you exited the relaxation room, you and Alice entered the main room where you encountered Sara, Reko, and Q-taro.

“You two…!” Q-taro exclaimed as he pointed in the direction of the rooms. “Come this way! We found Sou in his bedroom!”

“Y/N, your pants?” Sara asked, staring at the torn fabric. “What happened to Alice’s--”

“We’re fine, Sara,” you reassured the girl. You turned to Q-taro and nodded. “Got it, we’re coming.”

You and Alice joined the other three and went to Sou’s room. You looked incredulously at the sight of Sou on the ground unconscious, beanie missing, a wooden plank on the bed, and pieces of wood with concerningly red specks splattered on them.

“I… It’s the same situation, meow…! As before…!” Gin cried as he stared at the unconscious man on the ground.

You knelt down on the ground as you could hear him breathing and sighed with relief.

‘He’s not dead.’

“ʏᴏᴜ ᴍᴀᴅ??”

“Sure is…” Keiji commented as he looked at you. “Don’t worry… he’s breathing.”

“I heard,” you replied as you looked at the sight before you.

“On his head…” the baseball player murmured as he felt his beard. “Those splinters?”

Keiji touched the top of Sou’s head. “Hm… he’s got splinters on his head… and a bump, too.”

“H...hey, what the hell’s this?” the female singer asked, blanching as she held up the wooden plank.

“Hmm, well…” Keiji mused as he took the wood. “Seems just the right size to carry and swing around.”

Kanna stared at the man concerned. “You don’t mean... Sou was…”

“Urgh…” came a groan from the body on the ground.

“S… Sou…!” the green haired girl exclaimed as she scrambled forward towards said man.

“Oooof…” Sou grunted as he held his head in pain. 

Kanna looked at him, hesitating to speak her words. “U… Um…”

“Oww, man… I feel awful…” the freelancer groaned while rubbing the bump on his head.

“What in the world happened?” the little girl asked, looking around the room.

“Eh…? T… That’s what I wanna know… ” Sou told us, making the room go suffocatingly quiet. He felt around his head for his beanie. “Where is this place… when did I get here…?”

‘Place? Room? Did Sou forget or was he not conscious?’ you thought while looking at the man.

“Cram it, you bastard...!” Reko exclaimed, lunging forward as Mishima and Nao held her back. “Like hell anybody’s gonna worry about you now…!” She broke out of Mishima and Nao’s hold and grabbed Sou by the scarf. “What are you plotting?! Tell me!”

The teal haired man panicked, flailing his arms about. “W… Waugh?! Hold on…!”

Keiji peacefully separated the two, just infuriating the woman even further. The man spoke. “Now, now. Violence isn’t the answer, Reko.”

“Tch…” Reko hissed as she retreated from Sou.

Sou looked confused, making your stomach lurch. “W… What is it…? You’re so mean suddenly…”

Thump. You felt ill. A sickening feeling began to well up and you had no idea why. You wanted everything to stop. You wanted to leave. You didn’t want to do this anymore. One word kept filling your head: Why? Why was this happening? Why did everyone have to suffer? Why couldn’t everyone just live like they wanted to?

“Sou… who attacked you?” Sara asked, looking at the man warily.

Sou grabbed his scarf, eyes darting around at the people in the room. “I… I don’t know… Was I attacked…?”

“Wha?! Why else would you be collapsed?!” Reko asked, flinging her hand out for you to then hold her back from breaking Sou’s neck in half.

The man at question ran a hand through his hair as his eyes looked down at the ground. “Uh… u-um… I think… I was investigating the laptop in the hidden room… And then, I……..?”

Reko seemed to loosen in your grip as she tensed. “Shut the hell up! The laptop crap all happened before the Main Game!!”

Sou’s eyes widened in realization. “The Main Game…! That’s right! Before the Main Game, I need to… I need to check the data on the laptop... ! But the password… um…”

“Y… You completely lost yer mind, man?!” Q-taro bellowed in shock as he stared at Sou.

‘No way…’ you thought while opening your mouth to speak.

“Sou… your memories,” you said as everyone looked at you. You took your arms off of Reko. “Did you get amnesia?”

“...the Main Game long since ended,” the policeman informed Sou as the latter flinched in shock.

“W...what do you mean Keiji…?!” the shorter male asked, paling from the information. “Over…? All of it…?!” His voice started to become lost. “W… Who died…?”

Your stomach lurched at the question as you stared at the ground. Your head swirled as you couldn’t seem to focus on the topic in the room. You began to look elsewhere besides Sou. You began to feel guilty. Sharp daggers seemed to dig into your skin, like stars penetrating you. Your hands curled in on themselves, sweaty and sharp. Your teeth began to grind together as you let out a slow and quiet breath. Your throat began to tighten as you felt the urge to gasp for air. The pressure in the air began to close in on you. You needed to hide. Hide hide hide. You’re stained. Selfish. Why?

“ʏᴏᴜ’ʀᴇ ɢᴜɪʟᴛʏ. ʏᴏᴜ ᴍᴜʀᴅᴇʀᴇʀ.”

‘Just die.’

“I… Is it Kai…?!” Sou asked as the name sank into your flesh. You gripped your arm and looked away. “Where is he…?! Or Joe?! No way… Miss Sara… what…” His eyes turned to you in shock. “Y/N! You look terrible! Have you not been taking care of yourself...? What would happen if you got hurt...?!”

“I’m fine,” you lied while shrugging. “We need to, uh… make sure Sou is okay.”

‘I can’t breathe.’

Before you knew it, the conversation ended. Everything ended. Suddenly, you were in the lobby, where you could hear the others talking. Kanna was going off to talk to Sou, while Keiji told the rest to trust her. You glanced at Sara, who was staring at her shoes as you tapped her shoulder.

“Hey, you alright?” you asked as she turned to look at you.

“Y-yeah, it’s just that… it’s nothing,” she said quietly, her voice becoming raw. “I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you.”

You sighed and flicked Sara in the head as she let out a shriek of pain. “Hey. Don’t fret about it. See? I’m fine. I worry about you, thinking you have to protect me. That’s my job.”

Sara giggled. “Thanks, Y/N… I… thank you.”

You nodded. “I need to go to the medical office, so bye.”

The two of you waved goodbye as you walked off. Heading towards the medical office, you passed by Alice, who told you Safalin would patch you up. Safalin carefully stared at you as she applied some cream to your hands and bandaged them up. She kept staring at you quietly, and then turned away. You frowned, walked out of the medical office, and sighed.

“𝐘/𝐍.”

‘Well, this just got really complicated,’ you thought while placing your hands onto your sides. ‘I need to discuss this with someone. There’s too many outliers. The math… it’s not adding up.’ A small hand tugged at you as you looked let out a half-choked sob.

 

Negotiation



What should you do?

 

 

A. Discuss with Keiji

B. Discuss with Sara

C. Discuss with Sou

 



Stats:

Sara- 100%

Joe- ?

Reko- 65%

Nao- 60%

Keiji-?

Kanna- 85%

Sou- ?

Alice- 60%

Q-taro- 70%

Mishima- 75%

Gin- 95%

 

Guilt Meter- 20%

 

Me-Tokens- 100

Other Tokens- 0