“I’ll talk to Sou, Kanna,” you told the little girl as you had to shake your head at Q-taro’s offer and send a silent apology to Alice for this was the second time you rejected his offer.
Your eyebrows jumped when Alice sat up from his chair, got up and walked over to you. Placing a hand on your shoulder, he bent down to whisper in your ear.
“Talk to me later,” he whispered as he resumed his spot on the couch.
“𝐅𝐨𝐨𝐥. 𝐖𝐞 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐌𝐞-𝐓𝐨𝐤𝐞𝐧𝐬 𝐢𝐟 𝐰𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐬𝐞 𝐢𝐭𝐞𝐦𝐬.”
‘I don’t need anything.’
You felt a slight twinge of guilt inside your gut watching Alice frustratedly sit back down on a chair, but you shook your head. You needed to talk to Sou. While he wasn’t a threat to you now, he was slowly piling problems onto Sara’s plate which was affecting her mental health. Soon enough, he would start to cause even more problems for everyone else.
‘What if she becomes like me?’ you thought as you stared at the shadowy smudge standing near the doorway and the red figure sitting at the couch next to Alice. ‘I can’t… I absolutely won’t let that happen.’
“𝐋𝐞𝐭’𝐬 𝐡𝐨𝐩𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐛𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐟𝐫𝐮𝐢𝐭𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞.”
“Let’s go… Mom…!” Kanna whispered quietly and you couldn’t help but feel a spark of happiness that died as quickly as it appeared.
You gripped her hand and walked alongside her. “Hey… Kanna?”
“Yes?” she asked, holding your hand tighter.
“...is Sou angry with me?” you asked, your voice shrinking upon speaking. You placed your hand on your neck, trying to figure out what you wanted to say. “It’s just… despite everything that we’re going through: voting each other off and suffering day by day… I don’t want him to feel isolated like he’s alone. That’s just…”
“What’s it to you?” her voice snapped, causing you to step back and view your words. Were you in the wrong?
You put a hand to your head as a flicker of pain rang through to the point where it reached your ears. Saccharine sweet giggles began to echo in your head and you swore your vision shuttered red for a moment.
“...painful,” you finished as she and you stopped in front of Sou’s door.
Kanna stayed silent for a moment before knocking. “Kanna understands how that feels…”
[Kanna: +5% | 90%]
“Hm--?” you began to ask before you were interrupted.
“Th-thanks, Kanna… just let Y/N in,” Sou said from across the door.
Kanna lightly embraced you before she slowly let go and walked away. You watched her walk away and Sou opened his door. You avoided his gaze and stepped into the room. Immediately, it felt like the temperature dropped below zero.
“𝐓𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧.”
‘Stop telling me what to do.’
“So… what did you need me for?” you began to ask cautiously as the male walked past you and stood by the lights, casting an ominous shadow over his face. Before, maybe you would have cracked a joke to lighten the mood, but… the fact that Kai’s life had been taken at the expense of your cowardly greed and how Q-taro stated you hadn’t contributed to the group at all broke you. But even if it was Sou, you had to keep strong.
‘He’s calm,’ you thought as you watched him finger the fabric of his scarf and its unique pattern. ‘Weird scarf.’
“Hey,” he said with a cheerful smile. “Didn’t think you’d actually show up.”
‘Weird weird weird,’ you thought, resisting the urge to tug at your hair. ‘Everything about Sou right now is weird. But… if the Sou right now is weird, he might be doing this on purpose then he’s probably trying to put up some face. Two can play at that game.’
You walked forward and casually sat on the chair. You noticed his gaze become even colder. Turning your head away, you paid no heed. Since when did your conversations with him become so rocky?
“Hey,” you told him as you eased backwards. “What did you want to talk about?”
He walked forward and stood in front of you. “I don’t think you should be getting so cocky, Y/N.”
“Hm? How so?” you asked, watching his expression grow more and more displeased by the second.
“Trying to show off and become the new leader, are we?” Sou suggested, his eyes going blank and you knew it was time to back off.
“I’m not trying to be,” you immediately told him, your facade breaking. You pressed your lines together when the both of you realized that.
He smiled. “Good. Now let’s have a chat, shall we?” Sou sat on his bed and stared straight into your soul. But you were calm. “Let’s make a bargain, Y/N.”
“...a bargain,” you repeated as he nodded, his smile gone.
“Good that you’re getting the point,” he joked with no hint of a smile whatsoever present on his face. “What I’m saying is that I want us to have a temporary alliance. A one time deal.”
Your eyebrows furrowed. The false friendly air was nowhere to be sensed. You tried to process millions of things in your head. His goals. His actions. Who he trusted. What the hell he was trying to do. Of all people why did he choose you?
You pointed towards yourself. “Why me?”
“I want to see how close your feelings lie towards Miss Sara,” Sou told you as he leaned forward with a smile. “Imagine how she felt if her most trusted friend was allying herself with someone like me?”
“Are you implying that you two are at odds?” you asked which made his mouth morph into a straight line. Nevertheless, you pressed on. “I can already tell the two of you have some sort of animosity towards each other, but that’s not going to help us progress through this floor at all--”
“I chose you because you’re closest to her, yet you’re not a mindless idiot like the rest,” Sou interrupted, his words metallic and bitter. His soulless teal eyes bored into your tired e/c ones. “It’s funny--you’re her closest friend yet you aren’t like the rest of the riffraff .”
‘That word again.’
There was something about the way he was acting that felt so familiar. It was unsettling and discomforting.
You tried to get through. “Sou… do you really think Sara is--”
“Sara is suspicious to me and that’s all there is to it,” the man cut in once more. “My reasons are justifiable.”
‘Enough to kill her?’ you thought, fighting off the need to shut your eyes. ‘Why…’
Fine. He had reasons and he had a right to not to explain to you.
“I’ll bite,” you told him as he grinned at your response. Huh. “What are you bargaining?”
“I won’t tell you,” he said easily as you blinked.
“Although we can read each other extremely well, we’ll never know each other’s thoughts unless we spend more time observing the person,” Sou explained as he spread open his arms. You just pressed your lips together and kept your eyes downcast. “It’s funny, really. I feel like you’re more of a Miss Sara to me.”
“You know what they say: keep your friends close but your enemies closer,” Sou continued to say.
You shook your head. “This conversation is over. You scam.”
“Sorry. My bargaining item will have to be kept secret for now,” he replied casually as you just shook your head again. What the fuck?
“How can I guarantee you’re not lying to me?” you asked, slowly standing up. “This was… so…”
Sou immediately stood up and placed a strong grip on your shoulder. The two of you initiated another staredown. “You’ll hear me out. Or I could just… tell Miss Sara about our little conversation here.”
You twitched and looked straight at him. “You--”
Normally that wouldn’t be an issue, but Sou here was slowly going to break Sara’s mental spirit. What was the endgame Sou was going for? Ah, you just didn’t know. Yeah, this one-sided conversation with verbal manipulation was definitely making you uncomfortable.
“Imagine if I told her. The look on her face. The betrayal. Her closest friend conspiring with someone who she hates so much,” Sou prattled on as he took off his hand and stepped back. You felt an oppressive air begin to cloud your head. His words were so loud and dug under your skin. It hurt. Stop. STOP.
“How would you know? You’re here right now, aren’t you? Do you even know what you’re doing? ...I’ll tell you what you look like to me right now, Y/N L/N. You’re a leech . Hey, hey don’t give me a look like that because we both know that it’s true. You don’t even know what you’re doing or saying. You’re a mess. Y/N L/N… I’ll explain what you’re like to me...Hops on from one to the other. Only doing things for her personal benefit.” It felt like glass shattered and the fragments were falling through the air like hail and sinking into your back. It hurt, his words. Your breath hitched in your throat. Suddenly you couldn’t see Sou’s face. It looked dark and clouded. You can’t see. “...Like you did with Kai. Haha, wonder what Joe would say when he woke up? Wait, wasn’t that also your--”
STOP. JUST STOP.
‘Was I really…? What am I…? Am I really?’
“𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐭’𝐬 𝐮𝐩 𝐭𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐢𝐦𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧.”
“...stop, Sou…” you whispered as you looked away to the side. “I’ll… I’ll hear what you have to say.” You bit your lips. You knew he was just trying to act like this to sway you. “You don’t have to… force yourself to say that… I’ll listen to what you have to say.”
He stopped and stooped down to where you knelt on the floor. Your stomach shrank in itself with a terrible feeling like glass had been mixed inside. When had you fallen to the floor? You held out your trembling hands and you just stared at them. Your hands closed on themselves.
[Sou: +5% | ?%]
[Guilt meter: +20% | 50%]
“So?” you asked feebly while trying to upright yourself. Your voice sounded like paper in the wind, flapping around uselessly and quietly as the wind roared. “What do you want?”
Sou didn’t reply for a moment, staying silent. “...I want you to make a way to put Kanna in my debt. Completely.”
“...are you trying to use her?” you asked hoarsely, looking at him.
He hesitated. “Of course.”
“Good to know,” you managed to grit out as you made your way for the door.
“Don’t forget our deal--” he said merrily as you got the last laugh.
“Good to know that we can read right through each other like you said,” you hissed under your breath so low you weren’t even sure he heard.
You felt yourself fall over as you closed the door. Pain throbbed in your knees as you tried to stand.
‘And I know.’
You rubbed the temples on your forehead.
“Ah--” you gasped, almost stumbling backwards.
“ʜᴏᴡ ᴅᴏᴇꜱ ɪᴛ ꜰᴇᴇʟ? ᴛᴏ ʙᴇ ꜱᴏ ᴜꜱᴇʟᴇꜱꜱ?” Hands wrapped around your neck again. Cold. Like death. The thoughts in your head weren’t coherent. “ꜱᴜꜰꜰᴇʀ. ꜱᴜꜰꜰᴇʀ.”
‘Leave me alone. I never did anything to you.’
“Are you sure about that? What about that time? Or that? There's so many things you did to me.”
‘I didn’t do--’
“ʏᴏᴜ ʀᴜɪɴᴇᴅ ᴍʏ ʜᴀᴘᴘɪɴᴇꜱꜱ. ᴡᴇ ꜱʜᴏᴜʟᴅ’ᴠᴇ ʙᴇᴇɴ ʜᴀᴘᴘʏ ᴛᴏɢᴇᴛʜᴇʀ, ʙᴜᴛ ʏᴏᴜ… ʏᴏᴜ ʀᴜɪɴᴇᴅ ᴇᴠᴇʀʏᴛʜɪɴɢ.”
‘It wasn’t right…’
You realized you couldn’t breathe and slumped against the wall, falling down to the ground. Struggling to stand, you shifted most of your weight to the wall. Giggles bounced around the interior of your head and you couldn’t hear anything but the faint ringing in your left ear. You tried to stand but just stumbled back to the wall again. It hurt. Everything hurts for some reason.
You gagged, touching your neck carefully. You scanned the area, no sign of the shadow. Strange.
‘I have to… talk to Alice…’
You walked out to the main room to see Alice waiting on one of the chairs. The room was empty. As expected, it was late.
“Alice,” you said as you walked towards where he was with a wobble. “Did you… want to talk?”
“...no,” he told you, brushing you off. “Nevermind, it is late. I will be going to bed... Y/N.”
“Wait, what were you going to ask me though…?” you asked while trying to reach out to him.
“I was just… wanting to make amends, but our chat is over,” Alice replied as he walked away, his chains rattling against one another as he moved.
[Alice : -5% | 55%]
“𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐧𝐨 𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐢𝐦 𝐬𝐨 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐧𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐬.”
There it was.
‘I never asked for your stupid opinion.’
“𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐯𝐨𝐜𝐚𝐛𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐝.”
“Fuck… off…!” you hissed quietly while you kicked the chair that Alice had previously been sitting on.
A dull pain spread throughout your foot, but you hardly gave a damn. “Dammit…”
A red figure embraced your vision, blinding you. “ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ, ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ, ʏ/ɴ. ɪᴛ’ʟʟ ʙᴇ ꜰɪɴᴇ. ɪꜰ ʏᴏᴜ ᴊᴜꜱᴛ ᴅɪᴇᴅ ʀɪɢʜᴛ ʜᴇʀᴇ… ʏᴏᴜ ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅ ʙᴇ ꜰɪɴᴇ.”
Chills ran down your spine as you stiffened in fear. God, you could smell her. No, she wasn’t real. There was no way this was her since… you saw her die. Haha… You backed up but her smirk still invaded your sight. Even when you squeezed your eyes shut, she was still there.
“ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ’ꜱ ɴᴏ ᴡᴀʏ ʏᴏᴜ ᴄᴀɴ ꜰᴏʀɢᴇᴛ ᴍᴇ. ʏᴏᴜ ꜱᴀᴡ ᴍᴇ ᴅɪᴇ ᴀɴᴅ ᴅɪᴅ ɴᴏᴛʜɪɴɢ. ɪ ʙᴇᴛ… ʏᴏᴜ ꜰᴇʟᴛ ʀᴇᴀʟʟʏ ʜᴀᴘᴘʏ ᴛᴏᴏ, ʜᴜʜ?”
‘No, I didn’t!’
“ʜᴇʏ… ᴊᴜꜱᴛ… ᴄʜᴏᴋᴇ.”
“Get the fuck away from me!” you yelled at no one and just began to run to your room.
“𝐏𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐜,” you heard a voice comment accompanied by the howling laughter of another.
‘...Oh well,’ you burst into your room and closed the door. You felt like you were going to go crazy. ‘I’ll just… sleep…’
You sat on your bed, not bothering to change your clothes. Your talk with Sou drained you.
You began to slowly sink through your thoughts.
‘Was he trying to verbally manipulate me?’ You covered your face. ‘He was.’
Putting Kanna in his debt to use her… could you do it? But he… you couldn't breathe.
“Focus!” you screamed into your palms, muffling your voice. Holding out your frail hands you choked back a sob. Your throat and chest felt so constricted. Millions of thoughts ran through your head and you didn’t know what to do.
Don’t know don’t know don’t know. What to do????? You were so confused and distraught.
Your vision subsided and you felt yourself fall over.
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”
You hesitated before responding. “...of course. He’s… my friend.”
“What kind of friend would do that though? You’re here, aren’t you?”
“...you’re right,” you relented as you slouched forward. “I’m a terrible friend, aren’t I?”
“No you aren’t! It’s--”
You shook your head. “Maybe if I just--”
Hands taking in yours. The grip felt ice cold. “Trust me! You’re an amazing person, Y/N!”
“...if you say so…” you murmured, your strength leaving your fingertips. “So I’m not--”
“̷͍͖̃̆̑̇͊Ǫ̷̹͓͂̕ͅf̷̠̮̘͕͌̄̈́͝ ̵͇̟̺̗̃́́c̸̪̍͗̃ö̸̯́̚ȗ̶͙̝̠͔r̴̨̞̞̅̂ŝ̵̟́̈́e̸̡̞̒͛̋̆̎͜ ̴̡͈̾̂͒n̵̘̩̓̑͜o̸̮͉̹͚̔t̶̠̲̑̀̔͊.̶̢̫̥̹̃̆͂̏ ̸̩͒Į̴͗̌͐̄̕ͅt̷̳̯̮̮̥̀̈́̄͝’̷̤̘̣͗̓̇̔ḽ̸̝̃̏͘͝l̴̨̺̈̌͂̿̚ ̵̼͚̏̿̑̂̕ͅn̷͙͆̋̄̂ͅe̷̡̤̫̲͆̓̓v̸̨̬̣͛͜e̵̹̝̫͛̈́ř̷̪͎̤͖̽̌͜ ̵̳̀̃́̿͘b̶̙̗̻̼̀͑̓è̶̢͔̻̝̼̅ ̵̰̖̔y̴̟͓̬͉̙͒̎o̶͎̣̓̅̀̓ũ̸̞̓̋͌̓r̶̰̚ ̵͇͇͔͍͑f̶͇͇͛̔͌̌͜ä̶̲͍̦̟̍̿u̴̻̝͆̈̆͐̉l̷͕͈̩͉͚͊̒̉̑ẗ̸̡̥̱̯͒̎̓.̴̯̱̣̑͝ ̶̢͓̑͛͑J̶̼͛͒ͅü̴͙͔̾ș̴͖͆t̷̺̞̯̫̖͐͋̎͘ ̷̨̭͒̎ļ̷̭͐ė̸̗̆̕a̶̡̧̹̙̖̓̈́v̶̹̿e̶̠͉̦̬͆ ̸͕̝̪̇ḥ̸̗͍͓̀̐͝ȉ̴̗̜̌̿m̵̢̮̤͓͔̿̎̑͐͆ ̵̡͉͎̙͉̌͐̑͐h̴̳̖̍͌̇̈́a̷̧̼̲̍̇̃n̵̤̩͎͌͘͜g̴̛̭̠͊̋̚͠i̶̺̋̅͒̕n̸̛̮̭̔͐̆g̷̡̝̿̓͆̂͠ ̶͕̤͓̒̌̆͝l̴̨̩̅͗͆ĭ̵̗ͅk̵͇̦̒ê̵̛̖͆̓ ̶͕̏h̷̖͕̎ë̷̪̱̤̠̯́̂͂̓̂’̶̢̡̲̭́s̸̨̖̘̪̋̌͜ ̴̠͓̋̏͊̕͝ͅd̴̡̪̙͔͎̈̀͂͐͝ỏ̴̡͔͈̩̺́͛̉̚į̷̻͙͍̪̉̽̇̋n̴̨̹͓̻̰͋͊̽͐g̷̝̝͐ ̷̢̧͙̬̺͛͐̚t̸̢͕͂̀ȯ̵̫̬͂͠ ̵̜̆͜y̸̬͛ŏ̷͓̬̦̲͘͝ṷ̵͌̓ ̷̭̽̏̉͂̏r̶͖̞͔̤̈̄̍i̸̳͓̜̮̔g̶̬͙̮̼͌̈̿ͅh̵̪̙̬͖̣͐̆̃t̷̗́ ̵̨̼̰͍͋̂͜͠n̵͉͒̇̑̉ȍ̸̼̼͈͂͝ẃ̶̢̜̙.̵͎̖͓͍̪̿̃”̸̪̏
̶̫̺̤̈́̐̃̕Y̴̰̮̜̐̆͌̍̅o̴͚͇͈̔̾̎̒ų̷̹̯̫́͗ ̷͚͇̭͓̚͜g̵͎̐͝a̷̖̪͊͆v̶̬͕̆̂̓͝e̵͖̲͋ ̵̛̙̾̌́̒i̶̥̮̦̜͑n̷̞̙̦̬̓.̸͈͌̆̿͒ ̴̢̖͓̞̼́͝“̷̡̠̣̃̈́͝.̷̭̬̥̉́̇͒͘.̷̢̬̙̞͖̅͋̌.̵͈̭͙̣͒̆̆͋ǫ̵̪͖͑͊͜k̶̛̖̮̝̱̯̾̌̈́͌à̶̛̙̙̲̀̉͑ỹ̸̧̙̥̃̃.̶̮̝̏̔”̸̞̆̍͌͆
“Do you think you deserve to stand by his side?” she asked while wiggling her fingertips in your face, her fingernails almost grazing the skin of your nose. “Someone like you?”
“What’s wrong with me, then?” you asked, tilting your head and observing her. “You’re no better. Probably worse.”
Her hand shot forward and grabbed you by the uniform and tie, yanking you forward. Your gut hit the table edge, knocking the wind from your stomach. Her hard green eyes stared into your very own.
“Watch your mouth, L/N. You’re nothing,” she hissed, her breath scorching your skin.
“Watch your mouth,” you shot back, pushing her away. “Your breath smells terrible.”
“You think you’re so funny?” she asked, cupping the side of your face. Her fingernails dug into the soft skin of your cheek. “This just shows me how much of a fake you are. I bet your friends don’t even know you’re like this.”
You narrowed your eyes, slapping away her hand. “I’m only like this to people I dislike.”
The girl didn’t reply, pursed her lips and laughed. “You’re so funny, Y/N. Should I feel special?”
“Depends on how you should take it…” you said, looking at her straight in the eye. “... Haruka.”
You choked, a hard ball of air hitting the sides of your throat as you awoken from your slumber. You must’ve fallen asleep for about an hour because it still sounded quiet outside.
‘Fuck,’ you thought as you immediately got off the bed. You calmed yourself down as you ignored the figure sitting on the chair in your room. ‘It’s hot.’ You began to strip out of the clothes you wore. ‘Ah…’ You stared at the same change of clothes hanging inside the closet on the side.
You settled for a shirt which looked like the one you were wearing. Thankfully your pants weren’t jeans or you would’ve had a hard time relaxing easily. You laid there on the bed, your stomach coiling in anxiety.
‘I wonder if Sara and the others feel the same,’ you thought as your mind raced over to Sou who was obviously lying his way out of the situation and Sara who was starting to look more tired as the house slowly trudged by. ‘What can I do? In fact, I don’t even feel tired.’
You sat up and saw that you felt strangely awake at the moment. It must have been that nap you took in the evening. Still, nighttime was the best time to investigate things you don’t want anyone knowing about. Pulling out the phone you had discovered, you felt a tug of guilt in your gut. Kanna wasn’t faring well and the message that lay there in the phone didn’t bode well with you.
‘I could… use this to give to Sou, but… it’s too risky. I can’t. No I can’t. It rightfully belongs to Kanna, but the message… I guess for now…’
You clutched the phone and decided to just examine the contents for yourself. You couldn’t recklessly expend the battery, so you lowered the brightness and quickly skimmed through the inside.
‘As expected, all the apps are deleted besides the notes and there’s no WiFi…’ you thought as you kept skimming around. ‘ All the contacts have been wiped. The only good this phone is for is having a light source and a notepad. But I’m pretty sure paper is provided free of charge. So there’s not worth in this besides light and a message.’ You heard a click inside your head. ‘What if there’s more hidden items lying around?’
You stilled, holding your breath at the fact. It was true, the possibility of there being more items hidden on the floor was very possible--the phone you held in your hands was proof of that. Nothing at the Prize Exchange looked of value, just being random items, but things like the phone…
‘If there are more things worth value lying around, it’d be more useful to me to find them,’ you thought, the idea dawning on you as you fell out of your bed. You winced upon crashing onto the floor, but carefully held the phone in your hands so it didn’t crack. It was worth a shot.
You began to turn the knob and open the door and stepped out. You began to venture about and towards the different areas.
‘I forgot the lights are still on…’
Quietly, you crept out and into the ruined corridor and began to venture deep inside again. Walking while placing your hand on the wall, you tried to scour the floor for any secret objects. Nothing. You spent a good amount of time there when you remembered something.
‘That one area Sara and Reko were lurking nearby.’
You began to walk around the lobby when you heard a loud crack which seemed to come from either the meditation room or the monitor room. Slowly and carefully making your way out of the corridor, you rushed over to the mediation room to see it was empty. Going to the monitor room, you saw Keiji observing the AI screens, one of them cracked in the center.
“Keiji… what…” you began to say as your words faltered upon seeing AI Reko’s screen, shattered to pieces. Shards of glass flecked with blood splatter were scattered all over the floor. “What happened?”
“I’m not exactly sure…” Keiji murmured as he rubbed his chin and gazed at the screen. “Well…”
“...Keiji. Are you lying--”
“What’s going on, woof?”
‘Were we that loud?’ you thought, turning around to see Gin slinking up from the rooms and wrapping his hands around your waist. You pat his head.
“Sorry, Gin… we just found something,” you told the boy as he peered out from behind you to see the second cracked screen.
“Huh?! Computer punk lady is dead, meow!” Gin shouted, his voice rippling across the room. “I’ll go get that jobless man, woof!”
“Wait--” you began to say, as Gin zipped off. “Ah…”
A few minutes later you saw Sou, Kanna, Sara, Nao and Mishima trail out from their rooms.
“Oh dear…” Mishima gasped as he fixed his glasses to look at the monitor.
“This is… Reko…” Nao murmured, gazing at where AI Reko once was.
Sou’s face paled. “W… What… is this…”
“Punk lady… She’s…” Gin trailed off, not finishing his sentence.
“Who would do something so cruel…?” Kanna asked meekly as she stared at the screen in horror.
“No good… seems the computer in front is just for booting it up,” Keiji informed us as he observed the controls while knocking against the panel. “The AI was stored on the monitor itself. Reko… can’t be booted up anymore.”
“But… what was the point in destroying the AI?” you asked, staring at the cracks that rippled across the screen where AI Reko once was.
Keiji didn’t reply and his face went pale. “...Sou. You did this, didn’t you?”
Sou’s mouth fell open in shock at the policeman’s words. “Wha…?! Y… you’re wrong! I would never… do such a thing…!”
“U...Um…” Kanna spoke up meekly, trembling on the spot. “...Kanna was with him the whole time. It wasn’t Sou.”
The blonde policeman scrutinized the small girl. “‘Always with him’...? This late into the night?”
“It was Kanna’s job to watch him, so… we slept in the same room...” Kanna said, blowing you away. Neither of them told you this. Well, it was to be expected.
Glancing over at Sara, it seemed that she wasn’t aware of this either.
“...I was worried ‘cause she wouldn’t let me leave,” Sou chimed in, his expression still twisted in worry and pain. Commendable acting. “Though it ended up giving me an alibi, huh…”
“...I’m beat. Never run into a case with an unclear motive behind the crime,” Keiji commented as you felt a trace of suspicion coming from his words.
‘What? But those aren’t uncommon… it might be just me.’
Sara looked dubious of Sou. “Who was the first to discover this?”
Keiji pointed at himself. “That’d be this policeman over here.”
“It’s true,” you spoke up, backing Keiji up. “I came second.”
“It was you, Keiji…?” Sara asked, observing the scene. “...what was the situation?”
The man smiled. “Ahh, well… Couldn’t get to sleep so I thought I’d have a chat with Reko. Thought it would be interesting. When I came in… well, it looked just like this.”
“Is that true?” you friend pressed on. You noted how everyone went silent.
Keiji averted his gaze. You narrowed yours. “...yep. It’s a shame. Really is.”
“Do you think… that there’s a point if we look for a culprit?” you asked, squatting down to poke at a piece of glass. You examined your finger that was stamped with a print of red. The blood was fresh.
“Hmm… no clues around that I can see,” Keiji told everyone as he looked around.
“Meow? No bits of wood on the ground like when the other monitor got broken, woof?” Gin asked as Keiji shook his head.
“Nope, nothing. This is one nonsensical incident. Would love to solve it right away but…”
“We need rest,” Keiji told us as I felt myself agree with him for once. “Let’s do a detailed investigation tomorrow. Asking Reko, Alice, and Q-taro can wait tomorrow. We’ll see if Joe has woken up either.
Gin squeezed Mew-chan. “Mr. Policeman… You gotta… find the culprit… meow.”
“...right,” Keiji responded as everyone evacuated back into your rooms.
“...ah,” you said to yourself as you watched Sou and Kanna walk to one room.
Sara put a hand on your shoulder and she hugged you from the side for a moment. You wrapped your arms around her and held her tight as well. The two of you stood like that for a quiet moment as everyone else went back to sleep. “We’ll be fine” is what the two of you silently told one another and Sara departed to go to bed. You exhaled and gazed around at the other rooms.
Where should you go for the night?
A. Go back to your room to sleep
B. Keep watch of Sou with Kanna
C. Pretend to go to bed but then continue exploring
Sou- ? [-5%]
Guilt Meter- 50%
Other Tokens- 0