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r | major character death | disturbing content



She screamed until her throat was sore.

The smell of blood got into her nostrils and made her want to vomit. Diana almost looked peaceful, except for the giant hole in the side of her head and the pool of blood underneath her. It was oozing across the floor and Phi frantically scooted away from it before it could touch her feet. Blood normally didn't bother her, but this wasn't just any blood.

The restraints had popped off of Sigma's body, but he didn't move. It didn't move. It was still propped up in the chair, head tilted, blood trickling down his neck. An expression of fear was permanently frozen on his face.

She wept.

For some reason, even though she had only known Diana a few days, the sight of her dead seemed to be affecting her as much as seeing Sigma like that. She felt like she'd been punched in the gut.

"You should have just let me die, you fucking bitch! I was nothing. I meant nothing!"

She regretted the words as soon as they left her mouth, even though Diana was well beyond being able to have her feelings hurt. She rose on trembling legs and tore through the ward, smashing her fists into everything she could see. When she reached the bar, she took bottles and cans off the shelves and threw them on the floor.

"Fuck you, Zero! You fucking bastard!"

The familiar static started up on the television and she threw a bottle at it, too, for good measure. The screen cracked, but his image still appeared.

"I understand your frustration. I'm not terribly pleased with this outcome, either."

"Bullshit, you fucking piece of shit cocksucker!"

"Now, it is time for you to sleep -"

"Don't. You. Fucking. DARE."

"- when next you wake, know you will have no memory of these past ninety minutes."

No, no, no, NO. She couldn't forget this. She couldn't forget them. She couldn't -

Her body made a thump when it hit the floor.

-

Phi's head felt heavy when she woke. She fumbled for her glasses, even though they were just for cosmetic purposes.

"Holy shit."

She stared at the broken glass, dented cans, and spilled liquid that covered part of the lounge floor. It looked like the aftermath of a particularly rowdy bar fight.

"Guys, what the ..."

It was only then that she noticed that Sigma and Diana were nowhere to be found.

"Hey, Sigma! Diana! Where did you guys run off to?"

Nothing.

Maybe this is part of the game. Maybe they're trapped in another room and I have to get them out. There's probably a time limit. I need to hurry.

She made her way through each room in the ward, a knot growing in the pit of her stomach as she found each one unlocked and empty. As she entered the Healing Room, she noticed bruises and scrapes on both hands, as if she'd been in some kind of fight. She couldn't remember anything like that.

She hesitated for a second in front of the door to the Trash Disposal Room.

I've got a bad feeling about this...

But it was empty, too. The room smelled like garbage and bleach. On closer inspection, the floor looked ... damp. She called out their names and got no answer. The door to the incinerator was unlocked, and as much as she felt dread about it, she checked in there as well. There was nothing but a giant pile of disgusting trash.

"Look, if you guys just wanted to go off and bang in a closet, that's fine. You're consenting adults and I've seen the way you look at each other. But could you let me know you're ... you're not dead?"

Nothing.

She returned to the lounge, hoping somehow that they'd be there. They weren't, of course. The plethora of broken bottles worried her, but she didn't see any blood.

"Did you guys have a fight?" she mused aloud.

No, that doesn't make sense. Diana doesn't seem like the type to attack without provocation. Or maybe not even after provocation. And Sigma wouldn't hit a woman. Unless...

"No. No, no way. Even if they were infected with Radical-6, it's just us here. If they killed each other or themselves, they'd ... their bodies would still be here. Unless Zero has fucking housekeeping coming through."

She heard a noise behind her and spun on her heels, her heart in her throat.

"Oh. It's just you."

She walked over to Gab, checking the container on the collar for some kind of note, or clue.

Nothing.

"Do you know where they went?"

Nothing.

"This has to be a game, right? Zero has them hidden off somewhere, and I have to find them. Or maybe I'll just fall asleep again and wake up to find them in the lounge, and he wants to see if I'm suspicious of them. He's testing how much I trust them. Or how much they trust me."

Gab just kept panting.

She heard a chime come over the intercom. The voice wasn't quite the same as it had been on the moon, but close enough to send a chill down her spine.

"Now announcing the current casualties. Q-Team: Q, Mira, Eric. D-Team: Diana, Sigma. C-Team: Carlos, Junpei, Akane. These eight are now deceased. As a result, eight X-Passes will be revealed. Eye, Kill, Fool, Moon, Fate, Save, Doll, Fever. That is all."

It was only then that Phi remembered the boards by the X-Door. The names of the other eight participants were matter-of-factly displayed under "Deceased", with their corresponding X-Passes listed on the other one.

"No. This is impossible."

How the fuck could ...? Q-Team, that's easy. Carlos must have betrayed us. They must have been executed. Maybe Carlos and Akane got into a fight over it. Junpei would have tried to defend Akane. Maybe they ... somehow killed each other. But ... no, how could Sigma and Diana be dead? There's nobody here but me. I would never ... I ...

"Did I do this?"

She started pacing in front of the X-Door, staring at the bruises and scratches on her hands. She had obviously been in some kind of altercation.

"How could I have killed them? Sigma's strong enough to easily overpower me if I attacked him, and he would have stopped me if I attacked Diana. There aren't any bodies or blood. After the execution, Zero said he wanted us to remember that we killed someone. He wouldn't erase my memory if I killed them. He'd want me to have to live with it. It doesn't make sense."

The old dog offered no help at all.

"The only logical explanation ... is that this is a lie. Maybe all of them did vote for separate Teams. Maybe this is a trick to see if I'll leave. He has them all on ice somewhere, and when they wake up, they'll discover I left and he wants to see if they turn on each other. This just can't be true."

She slumped to the ground in front of the X-Door. She brought her thumb to her mouth and started chewing on the nail - a bad habit she had ditched back in middle school.

"It's a test. I'm being tested. Zero wants to see if I'll stay or not. Maybe -"

She heard the television start up and she hopped to her feet, allowing herself to hope. If this was a test, and she figured it out, maybe Zero was going to ... fucking congratulate her, or some shit.

But instead of his masked face, there was video of Mira and Eric. They had some kind of strange device around their necks. She couldn't see Q, but from the angle, it wasn't surprising he wasn't in frame. There was no audio, but based on their facial expressions, Phi had a pretty good idea what they were saying. Without warning, the device seemed to explode, taking both of their heads with it. She stared at the screen in horror.

The image of their bodies was replaced with static for a long moment. Then there was video of C-Team, all huddled together behind what looked like a bar - maybe the one in the lounge in C Ward. Bullets silently pierced their bodies and she had to avert her gaze.

"No. This can't be real."

She heard static start and stop again, and she forced herself to look back at the television.

Sure enough, there was footage of Diana, looking terrified. On the left side of the screen, she could see Diana's hand wrapped around what seemed to be a gun. There was no indication of what the gun was pointed at, but Phi knew.

She just knew.

She refused to look away, watching as Sigma's head jerked from the shot. She watched as the video changed to Diana holding the gun to her head, looking calm as she pulled the trigger.

Then static.

"No. I refuse to believe this. Diana would have never shot him. This is bullshit. This - those are robots! Or holograms. Something. This is impossible!"

Another image popped up on the screen. This time there was audio. It was very clearly Phi's own face behind a glass window. She couldn't place it until she heard the voice from the intercom announce that the incinerator was starting up.

The Trash Disposal Room.

Phi's last memory was of the vote at 13:30. But clearly she had been awake between then and ... whenever the fuck now was. She had been in the incinerator and Diana must have been forced to make a decision - shoot Sigma or let Phi be burnt to a crisp.

The screen went blank. Silent.

"You should have just let me die," she whispered. "It would have ... I would have died to save him, Diana."

-

At some point, Phi had sat down on one of the couches in the lounge. She stared blankly at nothing. She imagined all the ways the situation might have played out in the Trash Disposal Room.

Maybe she had been looking for clues to escape and tripped something in the incinerator.

Maybe one of them had to enter the incinerator for some reason and she had volunteered, assuming that she would be accepting the most risk.

Maybe she had been trapped in there from the beginning.

Maybe Sigma had been clueless about what Diana was doing. Maybe he died not knowing who shot him.

Maybe Sigma had ordered Diana to shoot him, to save Phi.

Maybe after, Zero had told Diana that she had to die, too.

Or maybe Diana just felt the way Phi did now - hollow and broken.

She both desperately wanted to get out of this goddamn place and felt like she needed to stay. Maybe it was all a lie. CGI, or some shit. Maybe they were all okay. If that was the case, she needed to find them. She needed to save them.

It was then that she decided to leave. She would get out and bring back the police, the FBI, the fucking National Guard, any-fucking-body.

She specifically didn't use Diana's or Sigma's X-Passes to open the door.

She activated the elevator, her eyes welling up with tears as it made the excruciatingly long climb to the surface. Her legs gave out and she fell to her knees, sobs shaking her entire body.

"They can't be dead. They just ... they can't be dead."

She was so fixated on her grief that she didn't notice that her bracelet hadn't popped off. Before she could get on her feet again, the needles shot out, and in an instant, she was asleep.

-

Her head was fucking killing her.

She pulled the pillow over her head and swatted at the alarm clock, letting out a satisfied grunt when she heard it clatter to the floor.

"Don't give a fuck about mandated sleep periods."

Wait for me ... Sigma.

In spite of the pain, Phi sat up abruptly. She was certain she had just heard Diana's voice, but there was nobody in her Dcom quarters. She stumbled out of bed, her legs wobbly and her hands tingling.

Something's wrong.

Everything was entirely too quiet. Sigma, Akane, and Carlos were always up before their alarms were set to go off, so there was always noise from the common areas filtering down the hall when she woke up.

And Phi felt like shit.

Am I hungover? Sigma was pretty sure Junpei snuck some alcohol in here. Did we have a party or something?

She peered into Diana's room. Everything was neatly in place, with the bed carefully made. Not terribly surprising; of all of them, Diana tried the hardest to strictly stick to the schedule.

But Junpei and Mira's rooms were empty, too, and those two practically had to be dragged out of bed in the morning.

It only took her a few minutes to discover that all the rooms were empty. The bedrooms, the common areas, even the confinement rooms. There wasn't a single other participant anywhere in Dcom.

You shut up!

Startled, she knocked a stack of plates off the counter in the kitchen.

"Great. I've started hearing voices in my head, and even worse, they sound just like Sigma."

Even though they weren't supposed to leave the facility, she headed for the door. Maybe some kind of evacuation alarm had gone off and she had somehow slept through it. Just as she was reaching for the doorknob, though, it flew open, knocking her to the floor. There were suddenly guns in her face and she was being hauled up and out.

"Wait, that's one of them! She's a subject!"

Everything seemed brighter than it should have been for eight in the morning. As her eyes adjusted, though, she could make out the Dcom project coordinator.

"Was it you? Did you activate it?"

"Activate what?" Phi squinted at him.

"The emergency alarm. Code seven, need police and ambulance right away."

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

There were two ambulances parked just off to her right, and at least four police cars. She realized the guys who had brought her out were all wearing SWAT gear. Some of the officers who had barreled in to the facility were coming out now, shaking their heads.

"Diana, right? What the hell happened in there? Where is everyone?"

"No, I'm Phi. I don't even know what you're talking about."

"I'm talking about the emergency alarm being set off and there being eight people missing!"

The pain in her head intensified as voices began to overlap, building to a crescendo.

"Ain't no bodies, but there's signs of a struggle in the kitchen."

Pull the trigger!

"Didn't find any blood, either."

But Phi...

"Did you do something to them?"

Life is simply unfair, don't you think?

"Do you see her hands? She's been fighting with someone."

A blank round, and my head doesn't suddenly have a new hole.

"Looks like she's working on a psych defense."

Why?! Why did you do it?

"Let's take her in."

Murderer! Murderer!

"They're all dead," she whispered. "All of them, they're all dead."

"Is that a confession?"

She felt herself being pulled to her feet; she hadn't even realized she had fallen to the ground. There was a sharp pain as someone wrenched her arms behind her and snapped on handcuffs, but she couldn't even bring herself to care. She had no fucking clue what happened after they all went to bed, but she's certain of one thing - none of them are still alive. Not Sigma, not Akane, not Junpei, not anybody.

"The families are going to need closure, you know."

"What?"

She was inside the police car, awkwardly buckled in with an officer sitting next to her.

"People are gonna want to know what happened to their sons and daughters. Their husbands and wives. You can help yourself and help them by telling us what you did to them."

She felt herself shaking, violently, as rage built up inside her. She couldn't fucking take it anymore.

She screamed until her throat was sore.

(fin.)