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 The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome

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Fuzzy

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PostSubject: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2014-07-16, 6:24 am

Chapter 0: Selection

"I'm home!" Makoto called out as he locked the front door behind him. He waited for a reply as he set down his schoolbag. Even after removing his shoes, the house remained silent. Makoto retrieved his bag and padded through the house. "Tousan?" He called as he peeked into the sitting room. By this time of day his father was usually sitting at the table reading the paper. The room was empty. "Kaasan?" The kitchen was as empty as the rest of the first floor. Maybe they were both upstairs? A quick look into the upper rooms confirmed they simply weren't home. "I guess they went out." Makoto said to himself with a small shrug. He set his bag down on the other side of his room's doorway and returned downstairs.

Returning to the kitchen, Makoto checked the time. 5:08 PM. He hadn't planned on staying at school so late, but the library turned out to be a pretty nice working atmosphere while it was cleared out. He must have lost track of time. The Acting Club was nice enough to lend him the key since some of them planned on doing the same later in the week. That act of kindness allowed him to finish all of his summer break homework weeks in advance. "Heh, not too bad." Makoto said with a smirk as he stretched. It was nice to have the whole summer ahead of him. He decided to make a few snacks since dinner was likely to be late. Unfortunately, there wasn't much to work with in the cupboards; his mother was likely out grocery shopping. Makoto decided on making some onigiri to share with his parents later.

After mixing the proper rice/water proportions in the cooker, Makoto ran into a problem. He'd forgotten that the rice cooker was missing its lid. It was accidentally broken by his mother a few nights prior. "..." Makoto frowned and focused on his hand. After a second, a glass lid materialized in his hand. He lidded the cooker and set its timer. That little 'power' of his certainly came in handy at times.

Makoto's 'power'... The ability to materialize specific items from, well, nothing. He could create inorganic items of varying size and complexity with the right amount of concentration and know-how. At this point, it barely affected him to do small items on an hourly basis. This 'abnormality' of his was known to scientists as just that; an abnormality. In a world governed by the law of equivalency, his power made no sense from a scientific standpoint. Ki-fighters and mana-users drew their powers from known energies. Makoto's power consumed no known form of energy despite constant studies. Very few existed in the world with this 'abnormality', each of whom expressed their ability in different ways. From bending the rules of reality to breaking the laws of physics, these 'abnormality' users had next to nothing in common save for one definite truth: Abuse of their power would drive the user to madness and, curiously, murder. The somber though made Makoto pensive. Before he knew it, he was standing before the room at the back of his home. Behind its door, the room housed the family altar where his brother's picture stood alone... Makoto's hand was inches from the door's handle when the rice cooker chimed in completion. He shook his head and returned to the kitchen.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Even after eating a couple rice balls and packing up the remaining food, Makoto's parents had yet to return. He retired to his room a little after 6 and began to feel sleepy as soon as he laid down. With his window open, Makoto was free to listen to Matsudo's evening noises. The city was a little busier than usual. There was construction underway around the street corner that had yet to break for the night. A nearby hissing indicated his neighbors were watering their lawn. The occasional car was enough to mute most of the other nightly noises. Makoto was listlessly staring at his ceiling, bouncing a rubber ball off of it and back to his hand. Though organic material was almost an impossibility for him, semi-synthetic items came at only slight difficulty. He had practiced often so as to not lose control of his power at any time.

Makoto caught the ball and stared at it. "Lee..." He spoke his brothers name without emotion before dissipating the small toy. By then his head was starting to feel a little heavy. Fatigue was setting in. He sat up and tried to shake away the grogginess. He'd spent nearly the whole day studying and working; it must have finally caught up with him. "I'll check my work tomorrow..." Makoto mumbled as he lazily stood to shut his window. As it slid shut, all of the city's noises muted. All except for one: the neighbor's sprinkler system. "...Huh?" That wasn't right. The noise was coming from within his room? Makoto turned around to investigate the sound's origin...


Last edited by Fuzzy on 2014-07-16, 12:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2014-07-16, 6:39 am

SECTION THEME





Makoto's heart almost stopped. There was someone standing in front of his closed door. There was someone in his room. When did they get in here? How long had this person been in his room?!

He started to shout when air escaped his lungs from the exertion. His knees buckled under his own weight and he quickly found himself collapsed on the ground. 'My... body..!!' Even though all of Makoto's brain was in panic mode, his body felt insanely heavy. He was getting tired and dizzy. 'NO!! Get... UP!!'

Straining every muscle he could, Makoto fought to get up. It was pointless. His muscles wouldn't respond strong enough for him to move more than an inch. He did, however, manage to tilt his head upward to look at his assailant.

The figure hadn't moved. Whoever it was, they simply watched Makoto gasp and fight for consciousness. Motionless. Featureless. The gas mask hid their face as the cloak hid their body. Makoto couldn't even tell what gender the person was. His eyes fell to the figure's feet, hoping to find any sort of clue under the cloak. The pants and boots were as nondescript as the rest of their clothing. What did catch his eye was his schoolbag just behind the figure's spread stance...

And the thin white smoke billowing from its interior...

"Da..........mn.............................." This was all Makoto could muster before his consciousness finally gave way to a deep sleep.

..........................

............

....

..
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2014-07-19, 5:52 pm

Chapter 1: Ambiguous Familiarity
 
..

....

............

..........................
 
"..............................KHH!"

SECTION THEME

Makoto gasped for air as his eyes shot open. He was surprised to be alive, much more so to be still in his own room. He shot up to his feet, only to make it halfway up before falling to one knee. His head felt like it was being compressed and his body felt heavy; no doubt an after-effect of the gas. Makoto took a quick, cautious look around the room. It was, for the most part, unchanged compared to its condition before he lost consciousness. The lighting of the room had become a reddish-orange; it was likely close to 7 PM, around sunset. His window had been broken behind him. Thankfully there was no glass on his back. There was no sign of the masked intruder and the white smoke that once spewed from his bag had ceased. Makoto checked its contents to find nothing out of the ordinary. It was then, however, he noticed the watch on his left arm.


Makoto didn't even own a watch. Two very alarming features of the strange device caused a mini-freakout in him. First was the glowing skull on the LED display. He didn't feel dead, but the unknown insinuation was incredibly unsettling. Secondly, he was unable to remove it. Where there would usually be a clasp on the watch's end, there were only interlinking sections that locked into one another. This creepy thing wasn't coming off any time soon...

Giving up on removing the device, he made his way toward the windowsill. The neighbor's house and the street off to his window's side were bathed in the sunset's light. The glass landed inside of his window and cracked under his feet. Makoto glanced down to notice specks of glass on the front of his school uniform. Had he been placed there after the window was broken? While thinking about exactly how much time had elapsed, Makoto remembered he was waiting on his parents to get home. "Tousan!! Kaasan!!" He tore through the hallway and checked each room on the second floor. Every door he flung open led to an empty room. The lack of response was really starting to get to Makoto. He had barely registered that of all the doors on the second floor, the bathroom was the only one that was already open.

The bathroom was devoid of life just as the rest of the house. There was, however, something strange waiting for Makoto inside. On the edge of the bathtub sat a briefcase; atop the briefcase lay a note. Makoto cautiously entered the bathroom and picked up the note.

"You'll be needing these~!" - i

"'i'?" Makoto mumbled curiously as he flipped the note over. That was all it said. He eyed the case suspiciously. Even if this was some trap, he didn't have a lot to go on at the moment. He slowly opened the case... and found a set of throwing knives, along with numerous holsters. They would allow for one to stow them on their arms, legs, back or torso if they so chose. "Heh. Right." Makoto scoffed. Whoever planned this didn't seem to know about his power, something he planned to make use of in the future. He turned away from the case and focused on his palm to create a throwing knife of the same shape.

...Nothing happened.

"?!" Repeatedly, he attempted to create an object, anything. It was to no avail. Makoto stared at his hand in disbelief. His power didn't work anymore! "What... the hell!!" His voice quivered as he staggered forward to the sink. Leaning over it, he examined his panicked expression in the mirror. 'Calm down. Calm down and think, dammit!' Looking in the mirror turned out to be a mistake, as Makoto discovered yet another change on him.



Around his neck hung a metallic collar with a small screen at its front. The display showed one digital number. '8'. "Eight..." Makoto whispered as his brain kicked into overdrive. Were there at least seven more collars like it? What did the collar and watch mean? What happened to his powers?! 'JUST WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?!?!' So much new information without explanation was hitting him all at once. Makoto's mind began to fill with a cacophonous discord of questions, confusion, panic, fear and anger. His pulse raced and his vision started to blur. The swirling emotions and thoughts became so vociferous that his ears could hear nothing but the screamings of his mind. His panting breath slowly escalated into hyperventilation as sweat began to pour down his face. Makoto's hand slowly and unconsciously reached for his collar as the bedlam became too much to bear...
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2014-07-19, 7:15 pm

BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!

"HWAA!!" The sudden noise snapped Makoto's mind back to normal. He scrambled to catch his breath as he searched his person for the sound's origin. Incidentally, it came from the watch. He looked down to see that the skull had disappeared. In its place, a purple '!' flashed to get his attention. Makoto barely had enough time to get his heart rate back to normal before a tiny, cutesy voice chirped from the watch itself.

"Yaa~aay, everybody's finally awake! i was getting so lonely... But now we can finally get started!" There was a small giggle before the voice continued. "Would everyone please make their way to room 3-A of Ichikawa Gakuen? Oh! If you don't know the way to the school, i'll help you out with a compass on your bracelets. Aren't i nice?! See you soon~!" The watch beeped once more before a purple arrow took the exclamation point's place. Makoto could tell it pointed in the direction of his school... but what the hell was that just now?

"Haah..." Makoto sighed and rubbed his bracelet-wearing wrist. "I don't have much of a choice..." He relented. As he made his way to the doorway, Makoto hesitated. There was no way to tell what would happen once he got to the school. There was also no way to predict how long his power wouldn't work. After a few moments of contemplation, Makoto doubled back and took the throwing knives from the case. There were eight in all, so he strapped three to each leg and concealed the other two under his sleeves on both arms. Praying he wouldn't have to use them, Makoto checked his holsters before making his way to the front door.
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2014-07-19, 8:13 pm

The windows downstairs had been broken in to match the windows upstairs. Makoto considered looking around before leaving, but he suspected he didn't have the time. He opened the front door, not at all surprised by the fact that it was unlocked.

A small gust of warm air blew in his face as he opened the door. While it was summer the air seemed hotter than usual, especially considering what time it was. Or.. should have been? Makoto realized that his 'watch' didn't tell time. At the moment it displayed that same purple arrow. He returned his attention to where he was walking and stopped dead in his tracks. The homes along his street... were gone.


This level of devastation... transpired within one hour?! Impossible!! Makoto whirled around to see his house completely intact, but his neighbors' homes were missing half of their structure. It was as if his home was protected from the destruction by some sort of barrier. His attention was drawn to the disturbing state of his house. It was mainly untouched, save for the front wall where a message was written in crimson letters. It looked like it was painted in blood.

D E S P A I R

Despair. What was that supposed to mean? What else had changed in his home? Makoto started to reenter his home when his watch BEEP-ed at him. That voice from before chirped through once more, this time sounding slightly annoyed.

"Hey, 8. i been waitin' a loo~oong time for this, and i don't need you makin' the wait longer. You'd better get yer butt to class before the late bell riiings..." Whoever this voice belonged to, they didn't sound like they were joking. Makoto wished he'd taken the time to inspect his home a little more... Hesitantly, he left his house behind and started running down the street toward school.


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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2014-07-19, 10:09 pm

The sound of Makoto's hurried footsteps and pants were the only noises to be heard throughout the empty streets. He was trying to make heads or tails of his situation, and was having little success. At the very least, he concluded the current time was nowhere near the evening. The reddened clouds overhead gave way to a harsh light toward the visible sky's center. It was hard to look straight up. Despite the strong light pouring through the clouds, it was hard to see beyond sixty meters in any direction. A dense fog seemed to cover the streets, though breathing wasn't difficult. It didn't feel humid, so where had the fog come from? He turned down another street. 'Two to go.. Almost there!' Makoto pumped himself up mentally to keep up his sprint.

Something shiny in his peripheral caught Makoto's attention. He instinctively looked without slowing down.


A raven? There was a bird perched atop a dilapidated streetlight. He'd had yet to see any other living creature on his way toward school. There was something dangling from its neck; presumably the object that shined at him. Were those magatamas? And its legs... three?! Makoto skidded to a halt as he looked up at the yellow-eyed bird incredulously. "Yata--GAH?!" Something slammed into Makoto's side and tumbled with him to the ground.

"Ugghhh..." Makoto loosed a pained sigh. He tried to stand up, but felt a weight on top of him hindering the task.

"Owwwwch..." The sound of a female voice drove Makoto to open his eyes in shock. The girl pushed herself up by his chest just in time to lock eyes with him. Her hand placement, in combination with the fact that she was straddling his waist, provided a very suggestive position. The pair's faces reddened simultaneously before they abruptly scrambled to their feet. "I'm sorry! It's my fault! I'm so sorry!!" The girl bowed to him repeatedly. Makoto dusted himself off as he responded.

"It's alright, really! I wasn't paying attention to--?!" His train of thought returned and looked to where he'd seen the raven. There was no trace of it; the fog likely saw to that. He was sure of it, though. A three-legged raven adorned by religious symbols... That was the legendary creature 'Yatagarasu'!

"E-excuse me..." The girl sounded concerned. She took Makoto's silence as a negative response. "Ah! That collar..!" Makoto returned his focus to the girl and noticed she wore the same collar as him under her scarf. He could see enough to make out the display's light green '6'. He took a quick survey of the girl.


She was only a little shorter than him and appeared to be close to his age. Her clothes were clearly meant for cooler temperatures, suggesting she was somewhere else before now. Assuming her situation is similar to his, of course. Her left wrist sported the same bracelet as his own; both it and her collar were identical to the ones he wore. Makoto was about to respond when he realized they were wasting time. "Dammit." He didn't know how much time had passed, but he sure as hell didn't want to miss the late bell. "Come on!" Makoto took off once more.

"O-okay!" The girl who wore the number 6 followed him to the best of her ability.
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2014-07-20, 6:32 pm

"Um... Do you know this place?" The girl walked a few paces behind Makoto, speaking reservedly. They had reached the third floor of his high school in record time. Their footsteps echoed throughout the empty hallway. "You didn't need to use the compass like I did, so..." Makoto answered her curtly.

"This is my school." He quickly amended that. "Was." The girl lowered her head, wishing she hadn't said anything.

"I'm sorry. Seeing the city like this must be... I'm sorry..." Makoto waved her off. Instead of answering, he stopped in front of the designated classroom. The girl stood a short distance behind him. Makoto stared at the door for a moment. Just what would he find behind those doors?

'Only one way to find out.' He slid the door open.

The moment the door opened, Makoto attracted the attention of seven sets of eyes in the classroom. Even with a quick glance, he could tell all of the room's inhabitants wore the same bracelets and collars. Makoto quickly checked their collars to match faces to their respective numbers.

     

A young man with sharp eyes wore a collar marked with the number '1'. He stood toward the Possibly in his twenties, he had an arrogant air about him. His posture and expression suggested being here was a colossal waste of time. There was a fancy, thin cane lying on the desk behind him. A woman around the same age as him wore the number '2' collar. Her disposition seemed much gentler than the first person, though she was only focused on Makoto for a moment before returning her attention to the small book in her hand. Perhaps 'carefree' was a better word for her. Makoto's focus shifted to the peculiar sword slightly concealed by her coat. The strange curvature suggested a scimitar of some sort.



The wearer to collar number '3' had an exceedingly exhausted demeanor. His gloomy expression didn't change upon seeing the door open. He glanced in Makoto's direction for a few seconds before shifting his gaze downward and muttering something to himself; whatever it was, Makoto couldn't hear it. There was a short sword strapped to his waist just under his green blazer. The collar marked '4' was worn by a tall woman with an intimidating look in her eye. She idly sat on the teacher's desk smoking a cigarette; Gods know where it even came from given the city's current state. Her attire was rather formal, from her long-sleeve blouse to her heels. A sheathed katana sat on the desk behind her, just a finger's distance away.



Number '5' sat at one of the desks waiting patiently. His body language betrayed him as being very relaxed in such an abnormal situation. His school uniform was similar to Makoto's, his school might not be far from their current location. Makoto expected to see a weapon on the boy, but couldn't find one. Number '6' was standing behind Makoto at the moment, bringing him to number '7'. He wore a stoic and nonchalant expression, staring at the scenery beyond the window before Makoto's entrance. The jacket and hat suggested a profession of some sort, but he looked pretty young to Makoto. A holster containing a revolver was strapped to the boy's leg. Makoto was the owner of the '8' collar, himself.



The last person in the room, wearing the number '9' collar, stood in the back of the classroom. His clothing was a little strange and he was clearly the oldest person there. While his look was serious, Makoto couldn't get a good read on the man. There were no visible weapons on his person, but there were plenty of places to conceal one. Makoto took a couple steps into the classroom as he gathered this information. The girl behind him followed. An uncomfortable silence gripped the room for a few seconds. The man wearing the first collar sighed in aggravation, breaking the silence.

"Is this still not everyone?" One spoke to no one in particular with an angered tone. Makoto decided to refer to everyone by number for the moment. Five leaned back in his seat and responded lazily.

"Not much we can do 'till they get here, right? Might as well wait for the bell."

"And then what? We can't be here for a good reason, you know. Coming here was a mistake..." Three said dejectedly. Seven interjected without taking his eyes off the window.

"There was no choice in the matter. If you travel away from the school, you get a warning from your bracelet. I'm sure you tried it, yourself." He gestured toward Three, who avoided Seven's eyes. "The bracelet or collar may be trackers or something to that effect. Our initial locations, combined with the weapon cases we received, suggest there was a lot of planning for this situation. It is highly probable there are punitive measures in effect to discourage disobedience." His reasoning sounded logical, and was what some of the other numbers were already thinking.

"So, everyone here woke up in a strange area?" Makoto asked. Two shut her book and regarded him casually.

"Yup. None of us recognized where we were or where this place even is. Somehow, our starting points had avoided destruction. What about you two?"

Six shook her head. "I'm not sure where we are, either. I guess I got the same case and note as everyone else?"

Makoto closed his eyes, pretending to think. "...Same." Six looked at him but didn't say anything. "The house I woke up in was pretty much fine, save for the broken window and the wall writing." That seemed to grab the whole room's attention.

"Oi. There wasn't anything like that where I woke up." Four eyed Makoto suspiciously.

"Me neither." Five chimed in. "Was it a message?"

"I hope not." Makoto thought back to the word on his house's front wall. "It was just one word, but it looked like it was written in blood...'DESPAIR'." Everyone in the room donned expressions of either concern or shock. Five nearly fell out of his chair.

"B-BLOOD?! Hey, y-y-you're joking, right?? That's not funny, man!"

Three, who had been sitting atop a desk, hunched over and grabbed his head. "Shit, shit, shit!! I knew it, this place is HELL! We're really gonna die here, you know?!" He jumped down from his seated position. "NO WAY!! I'm outta here!" Four stepped between him and the doorway.

"Like hell you are. You leave and the rest'f us are stuck waiting without answers."

"Don't you get it?! 'Despair' is a complete loss of hope! 'Abandon all hope, ye who enter here'! You can stick around and meet Satan if you want, sister! I'm gone!" Three's fear seemed contagious.

"I think I wanna leave, too!"
Five stood up abruptly.

"Is staying here a bad idea...?"
Two wondered aloud. Things began getting out of hand. The room broke out into an argument of staying or leaving. All of the numbers took part save for Nine, who leaned against the same spot on the wall listening to the chaos with closed eyes. Just when the shouting reached its culmination...
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2014-07-20, 7:26 pm

SECTION THEME


"SILENCE!!!" One pounded his fist on the desk behind him for emphasis.

The room immediately ceased all arguing. Nine was now actively paying attention. One grabbed his cane and took a few steps forward. With an elegant flip, he pointed the cane's end toward Six. "You came with him. Did you see this message?"

"I--N-No. We met half way." Six fumbled her answer a bit. One scoffed at this and bore a derisive smirk.

"Of course you haven't. Not one person here has reported something so out of the ordinary, whatever that even means in this wretched place." Makoto narrowed his eyes at that.

"Sounds like you've got something to say."

One pointed at Makoto accusingly. "What proof can you offer to authenticate your claim this message even exists?" Makoto balled his hands into fists.

"Why the HELL would I lie about something like this?!"

One regarded him with contempt. "To cause discord among us, of course. We've gathered, weapons in tow, in a small room with nary a shred of information pertaining to our whereabouts or purpose for being here. This is clearly some sick perversion of a competition of sorts designed to pit us against either something or one another. Any miscreant slime of the earth vile enough to concoct such an event surely wouldn't be opposed to participating in his own little game, now would he? Do stop me if my reasoning is unsound." He pointed to Seven with his cane removing taking his fiery gaze from Makoto.

"Nn..." Seven furrowed his brow. He didn't seem to disagree with One's reasoning; the conflict was the real issue. Makoto's blood started to boil.

"You're saying I'M responsible for all this?!"

"That's enough, you two." Four
said sternly.

"A 'spooky' message written in 'blood'? One that only YOU witnessed? HA! You'll forgive me for not being born yesterday!" His tone was heavily mocking.

"Please! Stop fighting!" Six' plea fell on deaf ears.

"Sorry to disappoint, but it's there! I'll even take you there later! And I'm not the one who tried to start in-fighting. If anybody wants to leave, it's their choice! It seems to me the only one here causing real discord is YOU!" One's eyebrow twitched. Makoto grinned angrily. "You were pretty quick to point fingers, there. Who's to say you aren't the 'miscreant slime' who--" One quickly stepped forward and grabbed Makoto's collar. An intense fury burned within his eyes.

"Oi! I said, knock it off." Four began to get angry.

"Don't. You. EVER accuse me of being on par with such worthless garbage, you mouth-breathing cretin."

Makoto was all to happy to provoke him. "Aww, can't take what you dish out, pretty boy? Or maybe you just have a hard time thinking before you speak." One's hand shook with rage, causing his cane to rattle slightly. Makoto could hear an object within it knocking against the outer wood. A sword-cane. His hand hovered over one of his left leg's throwing knives.
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2014-07-20, 11:34 pm

Makoto and One stared at each other in utter disbelief. The tip of a blade steadily hovered between their faces, slightly blocking their sight of one another. Its movement was so fast, the sword appeared nearly simultaneously with the sound of it being drawn. A gust of wind blew their hair to the side a moment later, the sheer force of the sword's movement cutting the air itself. Neither of them dared to move. Four stood at the other end of her katana. Indignation and death were clear in her darkened expression.

"SIT."

The two obliged in record time.

"All of you."

Each of the classroom's inhabitants quickly found desks to sit in. Four twirled her sword like a baton as she leisurely retrieved her scabbard. She sheathed her weapon with a flourish. With the sword now slung over her shoulder, Four sauntered to the classroom's front. "Right. I'm not gonna deny anything you've said..." She gestured toward One, "...it's definitely possible, but that's ALL you've got: A possibility. What we need is more information and concrete proof. I've been waiting patiently and I'm sure's HELL not gonna let you all start killing each other over a fuckin' maybe."

Makoto and One grumbled in protest. "GAKH!!" "HNK!!" Four's scabbard struck their inner shoulders in quick succession.

"SO. We're gonna 'bury the hatchet' for the time being. Take a couple deep breaths and clear your heads, yeah? Survival should be our highest priority." She spoke calmly as she stood in front of the teacher's desk. "Now. Why don't we familiarize ourselves with one another? We can't keep referring to each other as 'you', can we?" One scoffed in response.

"Hmph. You've got to be--HNRK!!" A sharp blow to his shoulder shut him up. Six raised her hand. "Yes, dear?" Four called on her sweetly.

"Do we just say our names?"

"Why don't you just tell us whatever you want to be called, and whatever else you're comfortable talking about." Four's sudden gentle tone was strange to Makoto, but it was a nice change. He decided to speak up. "You don't have to raise your hand." The red-haired woman admonished him jokingly.

"Eh, r-right." Makoto scratched his head sheepishly. "I was going to suggest using our numbers as aliases. If you're uncomfortable with using your real name, that is."

Four brought a finger to her chin thoughtfully. After a moment, she beamed at him. "I like it! Great idea, Hachi-kun!" Makoto blinked. It felt weird being called in such a way, and this woman's range of expressions was a little baffling. "Let's go in order, then. S'il vous plait?" She pointed at One, suggesting they go inn numerical order. He was about to protest before seeing Four's grip tighten on her sword ever so slightly. He stood.

"Ichi-san. Come what may, I WILL survive." He declared damningly before sitting back down. After a brief silence, the others began to stand up in order.

"Ni-chan. I looove books and practice martial arts!"

"San. I draw manga... and study conspiracy theories on a global scale." Makoto stifled an incredulous 'What'.

"I don't really like the sound of 'shi'... You can call me Yon-san." Yon declared enthusiastically. "I'm a kendo teacher, and I have an older brother."

"Go-kun. I'm a first-year high schooler and I have a bunch of brothers and sisters... probably."

"Roku. I'm a nurse, and I have a... a little brother..." She brought her thumb to her mouth and nervously bit her fingernail.

"...Shichi. Second-year high school student." A curt introduction. Up next was Makoto.

"Hachi-kun, apparently. I'm a cook, and a second-year." He gave another lackluster introduction. Makoto was far more interested in gauging the others' answers and dispositions. Particularly the next person's... Nine sat quietly, resting his elbows on the table with his fingers interlaced.

"...Kyu." The others waited for additional information. Upon realizing this, Kyu sighed. "...Unemployed. No remaining family." Another uncomfortable silence. Makoto took a few moments to memorize the others' faces and "names".


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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2014-07-21, 2:11 am

Makoto started by considering each person's weapon and potential risk. In order, he observed a sword-cane, scimitar, tanto and katana. Shichi had a revolver, much to Makoto's dismay. If he had a ranged weapon, it was quite possible that the remaining people had weapons of that sort. Go, Roku and Kyu had no visible weapons on them. This set him at an extreme disadvantage. Makoto was beginning to feel quite vulnerable with his meager eight throwing knives. While there were handles on them, there was no way they could stand up to a real sword. Much less a gun. While he could fight from a slight distance, his ammo was severely limited. At the front of the classroom, Yon had continued to talk about something. Makoto was far too engrossed in his planning to pay attention. Thinking about his apparent disadvantages, however, was giving him a headache. He decided to move on.

'Ni, Go and Roku seem like the best bet...' Those three had an approachable feel to them. Ni seemed open to speaking on friendly terms. Go was a little skiddish, but he appeared good natured. Roku was soft-spoken and didn't exhibit much aggression. Maybe it would be best to talk with them first? 'San, Yon and Shichi are a little more difficult...' San was clearly unstable. Makoto wasn't so sure he could be trusted just yet. Shichi could probably be trusted if he wasn't so aloof. Not that Makoto was one to talk... Yon was likely a good person, but GODS she scared the hell out of Makoto. He'd have to be careful in speaking with her in the future. 'Ichi and Kyu... They're dangerous.' Ichi had already made his intentions clear; cooperation be damned. Kyu wasn't allowing for any sort of interpretation of his disposition. His expression was a constant poker-face... but his eyes seemed intense and focused. Nothing was going to stop those two from succeeding. Makoto watched Yon at the front of the class, still not listening to her speech.

The more he watched her... this feeling of dejavu nagged at him. Had he actually met her before? But she didn't recognize him. Makoto glanced around at the other people in the room. The feeling persisted. What was this feeling? He turned back to Yon and tried to focus on her voice. Maybe concentrating hard enough would jog his memory?

"...Wh..at...?" That was when Makoto ran into a little problem. He couldn't hear anything. His vision suddenly began to smudge the visions before him. His brain started to spin in place. Makoto grabbed his head to steady himself. At least, he thinks he did. He was so disoriented, the panic center in his brain was almost completely shut out. He felt very, very hot.

"..........................ch...."

Makoto imagined he gripped his chest. He suddenly realized he wasn't breathing!

"..........achi-k...."

The spinning intensified. He was going to pass out...

"Hachi-kun!"

"...!!" Makoto's head suddenly cleared ad he was back in the classroom. He felt the eyes of everyone in the room resting on him. Yon looked concerned.

"Are you alright, Hachi-kun?"

Makoto blinked, trying to regain his concentration. "Huh...? I'm..--"

SCHOOL BELL

The atmosphere in the classroom changed abruptly as the school's bell chimed. A nervous anticipation gripped each of the aliased persons in the room...
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2014-07-21, 3:33 am

As soon as the school's chime finished, a series of gongs rang out not unlike that of a clock-tower declaring the time of day. Makoto had never known his school bell to even have that function. Each gong resonated within each numbered person's ears. Makoto counted the gongs.

'.....Seven... Eight... Nine.' Even after the final gong rang out, nothing happened. Everyone looked around the room in confusion.

Almost in unison, they noticed the presence of a small creature atop the teacher's desk. How or when it got there, no one knew. It was a white-furred creature with a long tail. Its appendage-like ears were tipped with glowing red dots and surrounded by levitating rings. A reddish crest glowed on its back to match the circles on its ears.

When it spoke, a familiar miniscule voice filled the classroom.

"Please, class. Take your seats."

The room's light appeared to dim, as if being swallowed by the creature's presence.

"It's about time we got things started."

The creature slowly turned to face everyone.


"Welcome to..."
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2014-07-22, 10:30 pm

Chapter 2: "The Nonary Game"

Everyone in the room was frozen, their attentions completely fixed on the small creature before them. The air held completely still as the nine stared. Makoto's brain was far too fried at this point to even think straight. After a few moments of tenseness, Go looked around the room at the others. "...Okay. Guess I'll do it." He pointed directly at the creature.

"What. The hell. Is that thing?" The creature's ears twitched slightly.

"Is it a cat or...?" Yon sat back on a desk while looking at the creature perplexedly.

"What kind of cat can talk? Its mouth isn't even moving!!" San blurted almost hysterically.

"And the tail's too big. Maybe it's a fox?"

"No way. It doesn't even have a snout!" Makoto and Ichi face-palmed simultaneously. Was this conversation really happening?

"It's also got little rabbit ears..." Roku brought her hands to the sides of her head and bent her fingers twice, mimicking animal ears.

"They're coming out of its other ears, though!"
As they began to debate on the creature's species, it looked on at the class with a look of slight disbelief.

"Man... You guys are rude, you know that? i worked reeeaally hard on that entrance and you all just completely ignored it!" The creature huffed. Shichi responded to it calmly.

"That's your own fault. Your entrance was clearly meant to be unsettling, but your appearance is anything but. You're completely lacking in intimidation." The creature flinched in shock as if it hadn't realized that. Soon after, it closed its eyes and swayed bashfully.

"Heeee! Yeah, i guess you're right~." It gave a goofy giggle. "How could anybody be afraid of all this?" Ni and Go leaned forward in interest.

"...All of what, exactly?"


"Yeah, you can talk. Tell us what you are, already!" The creature blushed, somehow.

"Oh, my. Everyone's so interested in little old moi! What's a girl to do?"

"...It's a female?" Ichi pounded his desk in anger.

"...Geez, that guy really hates tables."

"Enough! Is this fatuous lot good for nothing more than wasting time?!" Ichi stepped to the front of the classroom and drew his cane-sword. He pointed the thin blade, a rapier, at the creature's face.

"EEP!!" Its hair stood on edge. If the thing had a nose, the blade's tip would be centimeters away from its panicked face. "C-come on, pal! Let's talk about this!"

"This creature's breed is of no importance. This insipid display has only served to you all from the fact that we are no closer to learning our reason for being in this miserable wasteland." Makoto grimaced subtly. It was painful to think this was once his school. "It's become quite clear that you have no intention of taking this seriously. Tell your master we have no time for shenanigans. I'll speak with him. NOW."

The small creature mumbled cantankerously. "Pff, you're no fun... Fine, but i only answer questions to good little students. Have a seat, Ichi-kun~." As Makoto listened to their exchange, he started to get a bad feeling...
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2014-07-22, 11:22 pm

Ichi's expression darkened with rage. "Do those protrusions hinder your hearing? No more games. Bring forth the one who kidnapped us and orchestrated this." That feeling of premonition intensified within Makoto by the second.

'How did that thing enter the room? The windows and door were closed. Either its too fast to see or it can teleport. In either case why is it acting so afraid of--'
Makoto's eyes went wide with shock. 'Acting?!' Ichi drew back his rapier, preparing to drive it through the creature's head.

"I'm done with you."

"Ichi, WAIT!!" Makoto knocked his desk over as he stood to rush him. He only made it half way to Ichi before the rapier pierced the small creature's head. It quickly fell limp. Ichi withdrew his blade, letting the tiny corpse drop onto the desk with a light *thud*. He then sighed in frustration.

"Honestly, how many times must I repeat myself?" He swiped his rapier then stowed it, turning to Makoto and the others with a grim expression. "I'm. Done. Waiting. Let that be a lesson to--"

BEEEEP!! The collar around Ichi's neck emitted a short, shrill signal...

...and promptly exploded.
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2014-07-23, 4:49 am

SECTION THEME

Ichi's body, now headless, fell to its knees before slumping to the ground. Blood and brain matter had splashed upon everything in the immediate vicinity.

Speckles of warm splashed against Makoto's face. He looked down to see spots of blood on his uniform. He wiped his face and saw crimson smudges on his fingers. All he could hear was the sound of his own breathing. His vision wavered slightly. As his thought processes slowly came back into functionality, the overwhelming urge to scream crashed into him.

'DON'T SCREAM... DON'T SCREAM... DONTSCREAMDONTSCREAMDONTSCREAMDONTSCREAMDONTSCREAM'

His mind slowly came crashing back to reality. The sound of multiple screams ripped through his skull. Apparently Makoto had lost a few seconds to shock. The room had erupted in chaos.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!" Roku was screaming uncontrollably, tears streamed down her face.

"WHAT THE FUCK, OH GOD! WHAT! THE! FUCK!!"
San had leaped from his desk and overturned it in the process. He had his back pinned against the wall. Shichi had backed away from the body, covering his mouth in disgust. Ni, Yon, Go and Kyu were in utter shock. This was what everyone had feared. Although they tried to deny it, reality was something they could not escape.

Someone had just died. Right in front of them.

As if the situation wasn't insane enough, the small creature atop the teacher's desk stirred. "No.... no way....." Makoto's voice was barely audible as the creature sat back up and cracked its neck. He hole in its head slowly closed.

"*sigh*... And i was JUST about to tell him the rules..." It appeared to lament.

"Wh-h-hat... what th-e-e.. h-hell..." His body trembled violently at the realization. His collar could blow at any moment. And the thing that controlled it wasn't susceptible to such trivial things like death.

"Hoo, boy! Talk about a splitting headache... This guy knows what i'm talkin' about, am i right?!" Makoto was seconds away from losing his mind.

"Y-you... killed..!" Makoto was so scattered he couldn't complete the sentence. The creature shook its head.

"i didn't kill him. Ichi-kun broke a rule."
Its face darkened, yet its expression maintained a blank stare. "When you break a rule, you must be punished." Makoto's hands shook. He gritted his teeth and reached for a throwing knife. A large hand stopped him at his wrist.

"Don't get drawn in." Though Kyu appeared calm, his hand trembled somewhat. This was enough to rattle him quite a bit. Makoto released the knife back into its holster. He looked to Roku, who was now sobbing lightly in Yon's arms. Go was trembling, Ni was still in shock and Shichi stood with a clenched fist near his pistol, barely hanging on. San leaned against the wall with a dead look in his eyes.

"*Ahem*!" The creature cleared its throat. "As i was saying, all of your questions will be answered shortly." It looked at the group as a whole.

"Sit. Down." The remaining 'players' complied. It was time to begin the game.


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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2014-07-30, 3:54 am

Makoto slouched forward in his chair, balancing himself with his fists on the desk. He felt so sick. So ridiculously sick. His eyes flickered toward the body lying on the ground occasionally. A pungent stench began to slowly fill the room, accompanied by an intense disquiet. Death was so close; for all of them. Makoto couldn't tear his focus away from the creature sitting atop the teacher's desk. There was no trace of injury on it. It should have died... Right?

"What... are you..?" He asked, trying to regain himself. The creature swayed its head from side to side.

"i am i." More ambiguity. Makoto resisted the urge to let loose his anger.

"What does that even mean? You are you?"
The creature gazed at him with its static expression.

"Not I. Say i." Makoto's face still showed confusion and loss. "Whaaaaat? You still don't get it? Hachi-kun's a terrible student..." It lifted one of its 'paws' and pointed over Makoto's shoulder to the seat behind him. "Go-kun." Go jumped in his seat a little. He had been in a trance until just then. "Please explain to the rest of the class why i is i."

Go thought to himself for a couple seconds. "...I-I don't get it, either." He was too nervous to think. Makoto thought about it in that time, as well.

"'I'..." Kyu interjected. "Do you mean to say 'I' is your name?"

The creature nodded. "You're getting warmer~!"

"...And if we're all numbered, that would make you numerical 'i', not grammatical 'I'. The 'imaginary number', right?" i pranced about the desktop.

"Dingdingdingdiiiing~! You guys are pretty smart, after all!" Makoto watched the small creature contemplatively. Its name is i for imaginary number... He wondered if the creature itself was even real.

"Okay~! Now that's out of the way...  i think it's a good idea to go over the rules! Ready?" It was chipper as ever, and didn't give the others time to protest.

"Rule #1: i am not to be attacked." Makoto cringed, resisting the urge to look down again. "Seriously, attacking the referee of the game? Not smart. i'm sure that rule doesn't need further explanation, so let's move on!"

"Rule #2: You may not leave the city." The group's spirits seemed to worsen beyond fathomable limits. Kyu spoke up.

"So we are truly confined to this place. I assume we will be permitted to leave if we complete this 'game' of yours?" i nodded in response.

"Uh-huh! It wouldn't be much of a game if there wasn't a prize, right?" Shichi appeared to have recovered, somewhat.

"And if we're unable to complete the game? What of the losers?" i tilted its head again.

"The losers will stay in this city. For the rest of their lives." After hearing that, Ni protested.

"You can't keep us here! What's the point after the game's ended?" i's eerie gaze fell upon her.

"Rules are rules. I don't make 'em, I don't even enforce 'em. If you want to leave, win the game."
Ni slumped back into her seat. The room fell silent once more, but only for a few moments.

"...So, what's the game? How do we win?" Makoto asked.

"That's easy. Would everyone please direct their attention to their respective bracelets." The players did just that, looking to their left wrists. Makoto checked his own. Where there was once a skull and compass arrow now shined the number '3'. "Those numbers are a measurement of your success, or failure, in the Nonary Game. Let's call it 'BP' for 'Bracelet Points'. Anyway, your BP is at 3 right now. As you've probably guessed, the object of the game is to achieve a BP of 9 or greater. Simple, right?" i gave a short pause before continuing. "And that's Rule #3: Your BP must be 9 or greater to complete the game."

"You'll increase your BP by completing challenges and..."
i tilted its head and closed its eyes. "...hmmmmmm~. i'll explain the other way later. It's not  important right now." Makoto considered pressing the issue, but there seemed little point. He just wanted to get out of that place as quickly as possible.

"The challenges you mentioned... Are those what the weapons are for?"
Go asked apprehensively.

"...No. Those are for you to have should things get... out of control." Makoto felt sure there was a grave meaning behind that. "i'm sure everyone's noticed by now, but you're all feeling pretty weak, aren't ya? You don't have access to your powers or whatever while you're here. In the interest of fairness." i stretched laboriously.

"i think that's enough for now. All this talk-talk-talking's really boring. If there aren't anymore questions, we can finally get this game underway!" No one spoke after that. No one wanted to. The discomfort in the room was palpable. Everyone was still reeling from Ichi's death. Worst of all, distrust was starting to settle in amongst the players. Makoto felt a mounting pressure in his chest. His planning from before could pretty much be thrown out the window. Unless he brought his BP to 9, he wasn't leaving this desolate city that he once called home.

i took their silence as a confirmation. "Good. Let's pick teams!"
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2014-08-09, 10:40 pm

"'Teams'?" Yon finally spoke up. Roku had calmed down and was sitting in her desk quietly. "Then it's possible for multiple players to win?"

"Yep." i's tail swished idly. "The rules don't say aaanything about how many 'winners' there can be. These 'teams' won't work quite the way you think, though. Your challenges might pit you against one another. You might work together. You might not." With a flick of its paw, the classroom's blackboard rapidly flipped five times over before halting on its opposite side. A series of empty boxes next to the words 'Pair' and 'Solo' was on the board's backside. Makoto had never known any of the boards in his school to be built with such a function. Maybe it was a third-year thing...? i continued. "But it won't be that easy. What fun would it be if you all banded together?" i jumped behind the teacher's desk onto the chair, which immediately extended its height. The small creature procured a piece of chalk from the rail on its way up. "Alright! Team time!!" i's tiny paw blurred as it scribbled names and numbers inside of the boxes. In a matter of seconds, a chart took shape for the players to see.

 
Pair
Solo
Pair
Solo
Pair
Solo
Ichi / Shichi
Kyu
Ni / Yon
Go
Roku / Hachi
San
BP
X
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
"Ta-daaaaah~!" i presented the board triumphantly. Makoto stared regrettably at the 'X' under Ichi's name. Go frowned at the display.

"Wait, didn't you say we were going to pick teams? And what's with this weird setup?"

i tilted its head. "C'mon, what'd i just say? This wouldn't be any fun if your teams were ordinary. Besides, you all talk too much and i wanna see some action soon. We're mixin' it up!" i twirled in place before pointing at the board. "See these 'pair' and 'solo' columns? Those are the teams! The first pair and solo are a team, as are the second and third sets respectively. For instance, Team 2 is Ni-san and Yon-san versus Go-san! Get it?" The players were visibly taken aback.

"V-versus?!"

"Eeeeehhh~... Kinda. Remember those challenges i mentioned? That'll be the match-up. You'll work together to stay alive, but compete for survival..." i blushed and swooned. "Will hope prevail and unite the players or will they succumb to despair and stand alone? Haaaaa~ emotions running rampant, a story of love, betrayal, and mystery... i can't wait!"

Makoto found himself wondering just that. This 'game' was starting to sound pretty complicated. While some would naturally want to work together in times of crisis, this situation wasn't allowing much camaraderie.

"Why..." Roku's voice came quietly, her gaze was fixed on the desk in front of her. "Why are you doing this..?"

i looked at her blankly. "Because it's what we're here for. i, the official, am here to guide you, the players, through the game."

Roku pushed herself up from her desk, rage flashed in her eyes. "What sort of answer is that?! Someone has died because of this insane 'game' you are forcing us to play! None of us know where we are or how we even got here! Or if our f... families are okay..!" Her voice caught in her throat for a moment. Anger drove her to continue. "You want us to risk our lives and fight each other in some horrible place?! The least you could do is tell us why! What is the point of all this?! Why were we made to do this?! WHY..?!" She was starting to cry again, but did her best to hold it back. Roku's shaking hands made her outrage all the more apparent. i who had simply sat in the teacher's chair listening, didn't move. Its expression remained unchanged. There was a long pause before i spoke. Its tone for its response was somehow... different.

".........i don't know." Makoto adopted a look of slight surprise. "i am unable to access that information. Either it is unimportant, or simply restricted. i would imagine that completing the game will answer some of your questions, but i cannot say for sure." Its personality went flat but its voice sounded contemplative.

'Is it a machine...?'
Makoto thought as i fell silent for a change. Roku's shoulders slumped. She sat down with a defeated sigh.

"...Well. i think we're all set." i said suddenly. Its voice betrayed a pensive disposition of sorts. The creature turned and quickly scribbled locations underneath the three teams. "Your team's first challenge can be found at the location listed below. You have one hour to complete the challenge and return to the school's courtyard. Tardiness and truancy will be punished... So don't be late~!"

The small creature leaped into the air and disappeared. The players had very little time to let reality sink in.
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2014-09-04, 5:31 am

After a few short minutes, Makoto was leading his group downstairs toward their challenge location. Roku followed him closely, San's pace was considerably slower. Everyone was glad to be out of that classroom and away from Ichi's corpse. Their silence did little to dispel the mounting tension they faced as their destination drew closer. Makoto fought to keep his cool despite the apparent danger they were in.

No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't think of a way to break the ice. Ichi's death, suspicions of the game's ringleader, the nature of their 'teams'... The notion of working together was becoming less of a reality and more of a dream. He pushed open the door to the cafeteria, still leading the way. The large lunchroom's interior was just how he remembered it... for the most part. There were usually two doors leading to the kitchen at the room's opposite end; both stood at opposite ends of the large wall. While they were both still intact, the door on the right side had a large board plastered across it. A message on the wooden plank, reading 'Exit Only!', was scrawled haphazardly in a red substance. Makoto didn't dare guess what it was. The other door appeared normal; a sign protruded just above it reading 'Kitchen' in black type.

"That's it." Makoto said to the others. Roku stood near him wordlessly. San brought up the rear and looked at the door.

"Haaaaaaaaagh..."
His sigh was heavy enough to carry through the large room easily. "Let's get it over with..." Roku bit one of her fingernails.

"U-um... Hachi-kun?" Makoto and San turned to her. "Can.. I speak with you for a moment...? Please?" Makoto raised an eyebrow. San raised a fist defiantly.

"Keh! Already plotting against me, are you?!" He exploded. Roku shrank away from him in surprise.

"Wha?! I-I-I wasn't..! N-no, I--!" San's outburst had completely thrown her off. He vehemently continued.

"What the hell kinda moron do you take me for?! There's no way you two aren't going to work together and take me out! Well, you know what? That's fine! Plot aaaalll you want! I am NOT dying here, you know! Not today!!"

"Calm down, already." Makoto said with a sigh. "We don't even know what the challenge is. That pretty much defeats the purpose of planning ahead. i even told us that we might be working together as a team. Let's just keep calm and try not to play into their hands."

"Nn..." San's anger dissipated, but the air of distrust remained.

"We'll only be a minute. There's not much time, anyway, so we have to hurry."
Makoto added. That seemed to do it.

"...Yeah... Make it quick." The man wearing the third collar trudged toward the unobstructed door and entered unceremoniously. Roku gave a sigh of relief as San disappeared.

"Thank you." She took a couple calming breaths to steady her hands. Makoto turned and leaned on a nearby table.

"I only said what was true. Logically true, anyway." He mused. "What did you want to talk about?"

Roku shifted uncomfortably. It felt like quite a few moments passed by as she tried to find her courage to speak. "Can I... trust you?"

Makoto stood up and looked her in the eye. "..What?" Roku stood strong.

"I want to hear your honest answer. Can I really trust you?" She was looking into his eyes with a stern expression. Makoto thought for a few seconds.

"Honest answer, huh? I guess I'd have to say 'I don't know'." Roku blinked. "I can't really tell you whether or not you can trust me. Or anyone, for that matter. I can say that I want you to trust me. I want everyone here to trust everyone else. Ideally, I want everyone to survive this game." Makoto chuckled. "I can say all I want, but they're just words. Trust is something that has to be earned. That's what I believe, at least."

Roku looked concerned. "'Trust has to be earned'. Is that really what you believe?"

"Yes." Makoto answered without hesitation.

"Then... why did you lie?"

Makoto thought back. "You mean when the others talked about waking in the city?" Roku nodded. "*sigh*... I wanted to avoid a situation like, well... what happened. Suspicions grew, communication broke down, and unity became impossible. Kind of blew up in my face, didn't it?"

"Why do you think we would turn on you over something like that?"

"Tensions were already high in the room before we arrived. Everyone's suddenly plucked from their lives and dropped off in a destroyed city with collars and bracelets attached to them that can't be removed. No one knew where they were or what time of day it is. Suddenly, they learn that this place is one of the captives' hometown. He woke up in his own house. They've been gathered at his school. Who wouldn't be suspicious of me?"

"...I wouldn't." Roku protested, though she understood his point. Makoto smiled weakly.

"I can only hope the others feel the same way. Finding a good opportunity to tell them the truth is going to be rough..."

"Huh?" Roku gave Makoto a bewildered look. "You still want to tell them?"

"Of course." His answer came casually. "I meant what I said about having everyone trust one another. It'll be much easier if we can be open and honest. I wanted to learn a bit more about why we're here, of all places, and if there is any connection between myself and this game... or the person running it." He frowned. This was certainly going to be a challenge. He was starting to doubt his own ability to follow through and stay alive.

"I'll help!" Roku's chipper voice broke Makoto's stride.

"You... will?"

"Yes! You gave a really thoughtful answer to my question, instead of just saying 'yes' and trying to get me to ally with you alone. You did not make excuses for yourself when I asked about your lie. You also sound genuine about helping the others. That makes you a trustworthy person, I think."

Roku's smile was infectious, quickly spreading to Makoto's face as well. "Heh... thanks. That makes me feel better. Really. If we can get San to--" That thought brought his attention to the clock above the cafeteria's main entrance. "Ah. We've already used up enough time. We should go finish the challenge. We can talk afterward."

"Okay." Roku nodded and walked with Makoto toward the kitchen's entrance. "Thank you, Hachi-kun." She added before they reached the door.

Makoto felt a tad lighter after speaking with Roku. "I should be thanking you."
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2015-08-03, 3:39 am

The door to the kitchen opened easily, revealing a rather expected scene. Large refrigerators lined the back wall. Clean tables sat in the room's center, surrounded by sinks, dish carts and storage racks. A monitor hung from the ventilator on the ceiling. There was nothing particularly remarkable about the kitchen itself. Makoto didn't know what he had been expecting. At the very least, it wasn't this.

San was messing with with one of the far-side fridges when Makoto and Roku entered. "Kuh. This one's locked too." Annoyed, he threw his hands up. "Aaaagh!! I'm frickin' starving!" He kicked the refrigerator door. "Open up, dammit!" Makoto realized at that moment just how hungry he was.

"I'm... very hungry..." He brought a hand up to his belly. A sharp pain suddenly struck his abdomen as he focused on the feeling there. Hunger pangs? "How long... had we been unconscious?" San and Roku turned to him.

"The city's gone to shit, so I doubt we'll find any newspapers or working computers. There's no way to tell, you know."

"...Maybe not." Roku tilted her head as she examined Makoto and San carefully. "Your faces, everyone's faces, are only slightly lacking in color. Although I am experiencing slight fatigue, I would not attribute it to extreme hunger." She looked down as the current situation weighed on her. "The average human body can last three weeks without food... Judging by our ability to even walk, I would say we are far from our physical limits."

"...Are you studying to become a med-student?" Makoto ventured a guess. Roku gave him a weak smile and shook her head.

"I have wanted to become a nurse since I was in grade-school. Excess study and connections afforded me the opportunity to start interning early." Makoto was taken aback. You don't just start medical training early. Just what has this girl been doing since grade-school?!

"So we could've have been out for... what, a week?" Roku shook her head again.

"That would be risky. The body cannot go for more than a few days without water. Even if we were sustained by IV, we would see and feel the injection points. Also, I am feeling hunger pangs but I do not feel dizzy or faint. How do you two feel?" The boys confirmed to be feeling about the same as her. "Based on this we can more accurately guess that we have been without food for no less than 12 hours but no more than 48 hours. Those are both extremes, of course. Our adrenaline may be masking some of our symptoms, but it would be understandable for our captivity to have fallen between those times."

Makoto was a little impressed by her deduction. This was far outside of his element, but having a scope of time was slightly calming. San held his head as if thinking about all of this physically hurt. "Two days... Is that really enough time to set up all of this?"

"Maybe not. This definitely had to be planned beforehand. There's no way you could destroy a city like this and set up some twisted game without forethought."

"It almost sounds like the work of a terrorist group or something. I haven't heard of anyone powerful enough to wreck a city and get away with it. If it's already been two days, where're the police or Public Security Intel?!"

"...Maybe the damage was so devastating that the police don't expect survivors. Or maybe they cannot come here for some reason?"

San shrugged. "It's not like this is a war zone, you know. There's no way we could survive a toxic or irradiated fallout after only two days. Something's gotta be keeping help at bay."

That train of logic got Makoto thinking. "Ichi's way of thinking wasn't right. There may be a lot we don't know, but there are too many unsettling factors. This would require too much planning to be pulled off haphazardly. Putting a plant in our group would be pointless if they have this much control." San's expression slowly shifted to one of suspicion toward Makoto.

"...So that was your plan. Get me all confused so you can convince me there is no traitor?" He shot an accusatory glance at Roku, who took a step back in shock. "Or should I say 'traitors'?!"

"What?! That's just stupid!" Makoto shot back. "With so few people involved, more and more traitors makes less and less sense!"

"W-wait! Stop fi--"

"But it's as you said, isn't it?! It took a group to plan something like this! What's one or two sacrifices to make sure their plan goes smoothly?!"

"Why do you have to jump to that conclusion? Why can't we just work together?! We're all just trying to survive, dammit!!"
This was quickly getting out of hand, but Makoto was having trouble seeing that.

"Please, stop!"

"Use your head! Even if we were out to get you, wouldn't it be a hell of a lot easier to just kill you rather than talk this out?!"

"Keh! As if I'll go down without a fight...!"
San reached for the tantō Makoto knew to be hidden below the small of his back. He gritted his teeth and fought the urge to reach for his throwing knives.

"STOOOOOP!!!!" Makoto and San shook slightly at Roku's sudden outburst. She was panting and her cheeks were flushed. "Just stop fighting! Neither of you are thinking straight from the hunger. You do not want to hurt each other, right?! We should all just calm down and do what we can for now, right?!" The fighting pair had both dropped their aggressive stances and stared at Roku. Her actions finally hit her. "A-ah!! I-I am SO sorry for yelling! I did not mean to! R-r-really! I am so, so sorry!!" She covered her face in embarrassment. Makoto visibly relaxed and uttered an apology. San mirrored him and lowered his hand with a sigh.
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   2015-08-03, 5:21 am

Makoto mentally thanked Roku for the save. The room's atmosphere was calming down. No one had to fight, thanks to her.

"Haaaagh... Anyway, even if there is food in here we probably shouldn't eat it, you know."

"What...? But if there is food left it should be safe to eat, right? How will we survive otherwise?"


Makoto gazed from fridge to fridge. There were ten total. "No, he's right... This is supposed to be where our first challenge is held. There's a good chance the food might be--" "--tainted!?!"

The room's three occupants jumped simultaneously. A sickeningly familiar voice crackled from the monitor attached to the ceiling ventilator. i's small face appeared on the screen. Its sudden intrusion on the short conversation flooded the room with an unsettling sense of foreboding. "Oh, come oooooon! Why would i go poisoning you after explaining all the rules and junk? Heloo~ooo? Waste of time, much?!"

"So the food in here... is it really safe to eat?" San asked warily.

"Everything in the fridges are edible, i promise!" There was a short pause. "Well, okay. Maybe except for the 'keys'..."

"Keys?" No sooner than the words had left his lips, the door to the kitchen violently slammed shut. A large number '1' was plastered on the door in red paint. Dread immediately filled the three players. Please just let that be paint.

"Yeah. Keys. There are two of 'em hidden inside those refrigerators. That alone wouldn't me much of a challenge, sooooo..." It trailed off.

"...They're hidden in the food." Makoto finished.

"Heeey, that's right! Bet'cha can't guess what i'mma say next about those keys...?"

Makoto thought for a moment. If this challenge pitted himself and Roku against San, the answer was fairly obvious. "You said there were keys, so I assume there's one key for each side in this challenge. Since there are two doors, each key works on their respective lock only?"

"Ding-ding-diiiing! Gold star for Hachi-kun! Yuu sho shmart! Yesh yuu are!!"

"But what was the need for two keys? Can we not simply leave through the same door?" Roku questioned the creature. It smiled.

"Nope! San-san (hee hee, San-san) can only leave through the left door, the one you all came through. You and Hachi-kun gotta use the right door." Makoto noted the red number '2' on the right door. i leaned forward and whispered. "You might wanna give it a little extra oomph when you open it. Good thing you got two people, huh?" Makoto remembered the wooden planks on the outside. The creature leaned back and resumed speaking normally. "Don't go back into the room after you exit. And don't try to leave through the other team's door, either. If you do, you'll be cheating." Its blank stare somehow seemed menacing. "...And cheaters get punished." They didn't have to guess what that meant. San unconsciously touched his collar and whimpered.

"Is... that it? Is that all we really have to do? Find a key and leave?" Roku clasped her hands together, hoping it would be just that simple.

"Yup! It's totally just that simple. I mean, you're timed, of course. And after the first team gets out, your time's gonna fly by REAL quick!"

That sounded VERY important. "Wait, our time will 'fly by'? What does that even mean?"

"It meeeaaans the last team out better get out QUICKLY. Of course, all the time in the world won't mean squat if the other team steals your key and leaves with it... This is the perfect time to start sabotaging one another to get ahead!"

"There is no reason to do that! If we work together, we can get out together!" Roku asserted.

"Maybe you're right. Or maybe backstabbin's the only option for survival at this point. Or maybe this game rewards such behavior...? Are you sure you wanna ask me all these unrelated questions? Your challenge time's already started, you know. Speakin'a' which, you three wasted a buuuuuunch'a time gabbin', so you only have aboooouuut..."
A sudden winding noise drew their attention to the stove top below the monitor. An egg-timer was automatically cranking itself. The pointer stopped at the number 40. "There! 40 minutes remaining for your challenge! Remember, all you gotta do is find your key and open your door in time. Then you can leave! So go ahead! Look fer them keys! Eat your fill, or whatever! i know how you humans gotta eat."

A loud *clack* sounded from behind the three. The refrigerators had just unlocked. Presumably. San didn't like the situation one bit. "...But we don't have to eat the food, right? Forgive me for being suspicious of you when you've trapped us here against our will."

The creature rolled its eyes and sighed heavily. "Nnguuuuuuh, what-EVER! Don't eat it, i don't care! There's, like, knives and tools and junk lying around in drawers or something, right? You're in a kitchen, stupid! Improvise!" i was clearly getting impatient. "Whatever you do, don't dawdle. If you run out of time, you won't get punished. You'll just LOSE THE GAME. So, no pressure or nothin'! You know what they say: 'If you can't beat the challenge, get outta the kitchen!' Now, chop-chop! Tout de suite!" With that, the monitor powered down. Makoto looked to the egg-timer below. 38 minutes to go. He looked to the others.

"Not much choice, is there?" San shook his head in defeat.

"I suppose not."

"At least we can eat something. We should see if we can take some out with us for the others."
Makoto wondered if he'd be able to use the kitchen's utensils and ovens to cook for everyone. It might be a nice way to bring everyone together, if only for a short while. He smiled at the thought as he pulled the closest refrigerator door open.

The door opened faster than he'd anticipated due to the weight exerted from the inside. A rather large burlap sack flopped onto him. A wet sensation seeped into his uniform from the material. The bag itself reeked. "UGH! What the hell is this?!" San called out in disgust from in front of another refrigerator. It appeared the contents of his bag matched Makoto's. Roku covered her nose and stood a short distance to Makoto's side.

"I don't know, but I can tell you it's spoiled." Makoto hefted the bag onto the table behind him. It landed with an audible wet *smack*. He inspected the bag closely as Roku peered over his shoulder. There was no writing on it from what he could tell. The liquid seemed to carry the same scent as the bag's contents. It was very dark and soaked the bag's bottom half to the point of seeping through. Perhaps this is cow meat? The liquid was definitely blood. Storing it in a sack made zero sense, however. The bag was approximately 83 centimeters tall and maybe 23 centimeters thick. Even curiouser was the bag's sealing. It wasn't tied, but rather sewn shut on all ends. Makoto had worked with exotic foods before; cooking with new ingredients was exciting for him. This was something he had yet to encounter. And yet, the scent was somehow familiar. "What is IN this??"

"That lyin' little plushie! No way this stuff is edible! Spoiled meat is still poisonous, you know!" San looked through the nearby drawers with a sickened expression. He procured a long, sharp cutting knife and regarded the bag with revulsion.

"Spoiled food is technically edible to some cultures. I guess it never said anything about the food being rotten."

".......Huh?"

Makoto's hands froze. Something about what Roku had just said was... strange. He thought about it. 'i never said anything about the food being spoiled. Was that it...? No. Think harder... What is in this?'

His concentration on the bag intensified. 'i never said... TECHNICALLY i never said... this was food... What... is in this?'

"Hachi-kun...? Are you alright?" Roku's voice sounded muffled.

Makoto's vision began to shake. Time seemed to slow to a crawl. Something was very WRONG. 'I've...... sm...elled.. this..... befo..re? Not........ foo..d.... but.... edi....ble.......? Edible...... edible......' Makoto saw his trembling hand extend one finger and poke the bag on its side.

...The bag TWITCHED.

'W H A T   I S   I N   T H I S   ?'

San rotated his arm holding the cutting knife and psyched himself up. "Yoshi!" He then raised the knife and stabbed it into the sack in one swift motion. The next sound to follow drove Makoto's sanity to its limit.


"GGyggGgGYAGGAGGAAAAAaaaAAAaAAGGGggGGAGAGGAAAAgGGH!!!!"
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonary Game: Despair Syndrome   

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