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Virtue's Dangerous Rewards

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Start -> Elevator Escape

“Alright, it’s open. Now let’s get the hell out of here.”

The girl who was trapped in the elevator with Sigma simply stared silently at him.

“What?” he asked, staring back, “What’s wrong?” It only took a few more moments of staring for him to realize as he looked up at the ceiling hatch again. “Guess it’s a little high for you, huh? I’d say that’s at least six feet, maybe more…” He looked back down to the girl. “All right, then. Climb up on my shoulders.”

“Your… shoulders?”

“Yea, that’s right. Why, something wrong?” The girl just stared at him some more. She was seriously starting to freak him out. “Wh-What? What’s that look supposed to mean? What do you think I’m gonna do?”

The girl stared more.

“I’m just trying to be rational here,” Sigma defended. “No ulterior motives, hand to God. Not like I’m hoping to get my face sandwiched between a girl’s bare thighs or-”

The girl groaned. “I knew it! You sick bastard!”

“I… I was just kidding…”

The girl just continued to glare.

“... Right. Look, I’m just trying to get us out of here. You got any brilliant ideas that don’t involve your thighs?”

They both looked up at the open hatch again before she sighed.

“Fine. On your knees.”

Sigma blinked at her. “... What?”

The girl rolled her eyes. “You’re a little tall for me to just jump up on your shoulders. And I’m certainly not going to give you the satisfaction of making me climb. So, kneel.”

“Oh… Okay.” Sigma carefully got on his knees. “... There. Ready! Bring it on!”

“Heh. Thanks.” Sigma was surprised to hear her tone soften somewhat, and he hoped that was a good thing. Probably wasn’t the best idea to anger the person you’d just been trapped with, even if they were about to get out. Of course, her tone returned to what already seemed strangely familiar to Sigma with what she said next. “A little step up is just what I needed.”

“What?! Wait, what are you going to do..?”

The girl cut him off. “Quiet. Here… we… go!”

Sigma grunted as he felt her practically leap off his back, looking up to see if she made it. To his astonishment, she easily flew into the air and out of the hole, landing on her feet outside of it despite it being at least six feet in the air. “Sh-She can fly?!” Rationally, Sigma knew that wasn’t the case, but it was still hard to make sense of what he’d just seen. “How in the hell…”

The girl turned around and leaned down, holding her hand out. “All right, give me your hand.”

Sigma looked up at her, still baffled. “What? Oh. Uh… What the heck are you?”

“Well I’m not Superman, that’s for sure.” Sigma just stared at her, even more baffled by the response, while she simply continued:“And I’m not Batman, or Spiderman, or Aquaman, or a merman, or a wolfman. I’m not a brahman, or common, or ramen. I’m not a caiman, either, so you don’t really need to worry about anything.” She seemed to wait for a response, and when she didn’t get one, she rolled her eyes. “My name is Phi. I guess you could say… I am no man.”

Sigma wanted to jab back that he hadn’t called her a man in the first place, but the words just didn’t come, and she huffed at him. “Just come on! One of these days, Witch-king...”

Sigma seriously didn’t get what she was going on about, but he took her hand anyways, and she helped to pull him out of the elevator.

When they got out, they found themselves in a large, warehouse-like room. Sigma looked around with wide eyes. “Whoa… What’s up with this place?”

“It sure doesn’t look like an elevator shaft,” Phi pointed out. “Some kind of warehouse, maybe. Or a hangar.”

“So we were in an elevator that doesn’t… elevate.”

“Yea. It wasn’t going to go anywhere…”

Sigma crossed his arms. “When that rabbit said it was gonna fall, he was just screwing with us?” It sounded most likely at this point.

“So it would seem,” Phi agreed.

“Then why..?”

“Forget it. Look.” Phi pointed across the room, towards a huge door with a 9 on it. There were several people in front of it. “More people. Looks like an old guy, a young man… Two girls, and…”

“... A kid?” Sigma finished.

“They’re all wearing bracelets…” How she saw that from this distance, Sigma had no idea. He didn’t think his eyes were that bad, but jeez. “Probably safe to assume they’re trapped here too.”

“Right, well, let’s go say hi, then!” Sigma leaped down onto the floor and jogged over, Phi following close behind. Sigma panted softly as he stopped in front of one of the ladies. “Hey! Hey there! Any of you guys know what the hell’s going on here?”

The woman, dark-skinned and in a gold shirt and white jacket, spoke first. “No, we don’t. I haven’t been out here much longer than you.” She sounded slightly testy, not that Sigma could blame her in their situation.

The elder man spoke next. “They grabbed you too, huh?”

“... Grabbed…?” For a moment, he’d almost forgotten. His car, the smoke, the gas mask… He shook his head, attempting to focus. “Oh… Yeah… I got in my car… I went to start the engine and then there was this white smoke…”

The redheaded woman spoke up softly, looking sympathetic. “I think we all shared that particular experience… The smoke seems to be some kind of general anesthetic. When I woke up, I was in one of these ‘elevators.’”

Sigma raised a brow. “All five of you were in one elevator?” That sounded strange, especially since he and Phi were alone in another one.

The young boy quickly corrected him. “No. Mr. Dio and I were in the same elevator, but…”

“Wait,” Sigma interrupted, “Which one of you is Dio?”

The taller blond man spoke up. “That would be me. This little guy here is Quark.”

“Nice to meet you, Mister,” Quark said with a smile.

“Uh, right, nice to meet you too.” Sigma was sure they could have met under better circumstances, but that was neither here nor there. “So… What about the rest of you?”

“Tenmyouji, Alice, and Luna all woke up in different elevators. Correct me if I’m wrong…” Dio explained.

The older man shook his head. “No, you’ve got it right.”

“So… You’d be Tenmyouji then, right, sir?”

“Yup.”

“And Alice is…”

“Me,” the dark-skinned woman said, stepping forward. “She’s Luna.”

Sigma was pretty sure he could have figured that out from process of elimination, but hey, whatever worked.

Luna seemed to shrink back a bit instead. “H-H-Hello! It’s very nice to meet you!”

“Um… Hey…” Sigma could have kicked himself at his own lack of eloquence, but he chose to blame it on the situation instead. He was still getting his bearings after all, sue him if he wasn’t going to be the smoothest talker, especially where cute girls were involved. “Nice to meet you too.” He couldn’t help but wonder what she was so nervous about. Other than maybe everything that had just happened, of course. Or maybe she was just a naturally nervous person.

Dio interrupted his train of thought. “And you are?”

“Right.” Sigma couldn’t believe he’d almost forgotten to introduce himself. “Uh, I’m Sigma… And this bundle of laughs is Phi. Good to meet you all, I guess.”

“Say. That. Again.

Sigma rolled his eyes. “And this malnourished harpy is Phi,” he corrected. “Better?”

“Bastard…”

Dio just stared at them for a few moments, raising a brow. “Um… Are you two...?”

“Ha! Not likely. That elevator was the first time we’d seen each other.” Sigma wasn’t quite sure what Dio was thinking, but really, it probably wasn’t anywhere close to what was really going on. “I… think,” he trailed off, remembering how Phi had mysteriously known his name.

“You think? ” Dio pressed.

“Uh, never mind. Forget I said anything. We met, just now, in that elevator. That’s the truth.” At least, as far as Sigma knew.

Dio shook his head and turned back to the door, muttering something about reminding him of some stories. Sigma didn’t quite catch what he said, since his attention was caught by Tenmyouji speaking again. “Can I see your bracelet there?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah, sure.” Sigma held out his wrist for the other.

Tenmyouji hummed softly as he examined it. “And yours, Phi, right?” He asked, turning to her. “Let me have a look.” He shook his head when he saw. “I thought so.”

“What?”

“Quark, you and Dio show them your bracelets,” he said, in lieu of an explanation

The blonds stepped forward, showing off their own bracelets. They appeared to be the same as Sigma and Phi’s in every way, except theirs were blue instead of red.

“They’re the same, just different colors,” Sigma murmured.

“Sharp eye there,” Tenmyouji said, and Sigma could almost feel the sarcasm from him.

Sigma chose to ignore it. “What about yours, uh, sir? Tenmyouji, right?”

Tenmyouji nodded. “Show them yours too, ladies.” The three held their wrists out, letting Sigma and Phi get a good look. All three had the same number, but read “SOLO” instead of “PAIR” and each was a different color.

Sigma hummed softly in thought. “Red, Blue, and Green… They’re different. You’ve got 3s too, but your bracelets all say SOLO.”

“Right.” Sigma got the feeling that Tenmyouji was starting to think he was slow. “You figure it out, then?”

“Figure what out?”

Phi shook her head. “Sigma and I are the red pair. Dio and Quark are the blue pair. Each pair got put in the same elevator. But Tenmyouji, Alice, and Luna were all solos, so…”

“So they got put in their own separate elevators.” Okay, maybe he was a little slow on the uptake at the moment. A lot was happening at once and he couldn’t catch everything, after all. “Okay, that’s great and all, but what do PAIR and SOLO even mean ?”

Tenmyouji paused, then rubbed his neck. “Don’t got the foggiest idea.”

“Well that’s helpful,” Sigma replied sarcastically.

Luna thankfully stepped forward, her soft voice interrupting any potential fight. “I don’t know why we’re split up like this either.”

“Does anybody know what the three means?” Quark asked.

Dio toyed with the brim of his hat, looking thoughtful. “Maybe it has something to do with the game.”

“Game? Oh, yea…” Sigma had almost forgotten. The rabbit had called it the Nonary Game, Ambidex Edition, whatever that meant. “You guys saw him too, right? That… rabbit thing?”

“Yes.” Luna nodded. “In the elevator.”

“He said something about the elevator falling,” Quark added.

The others explained that after they’d escaped from their own “elevators,” they’d gone about the warehouse-like room they were in and tested the doors. Unfortunately, it turned out they were all shut tight, and impossible to open. They had been about to try and open the door with the nine on it when Phi and Sigma appeared.

Sigma sighed and rubbed his forehead, feeling the headache coming on. “So… Any chance this one’ll open?” He doubted it, but it was worth a shot, right?

“You think we’d have done it last if there was?” Dio asked a bit testily.

“There’s some sort of… I dunno, machine, off to the left here, but…” Sigma wandered over to it.

“Well give it a shot why don’t you?” Dio jabbed.

Sigma attempted to pull the handle, but it simply made a strange noise, and the screen, previously showing LOCK, flashed ERROR a few times before returning to its previous state. “Hm. Looks like force probably isn’t going to work either.” He tried anyways, the door giving a soft creaking noise as he pushed and pulled. “Damn… Well, didn’t think that would work anyways.”

Dio shook his head, chuckling. “I don’t think you’d be able to force that door with anything short of a tank.” He was probably right, too, seeing as it seemed to be solid steel and had very heavy clasps on it.

Sigma turned away from the 9 door. “Alright, well… How about those three doors over there?” he asked, motioning to the pink, yellow, and blue doors.

“I told you already,” Quark said, taking on a much less subtle tone of exasperation than Tenmyouji did. “Each one’s got a digital lock on it. We can’t pick the lock, and we can’t break down the door.”

“You sure about that?” Sigma asked.

“Why would I lie?” Quark looked somewhat irritated at being seemingly accused.

Sigma rolled his eyes, not bothering to correct him. “Okay, are there any other ways out?”

Luna sighed. “No, unfortunately. Not that we’ve found, anyway.”

“Great…”

“Well, there is one thing I’m a little curious about…” Alice said, looking towards the elevators.

Sigma followed her gaze. “And that is?”

Alice hummed softly. “I was the first to escape. That means I know who was in which elevator. I watched all of you come out after all.”

Sigma nodded. “And?”

“Well… I was in the one third from the right, Tenmyouji was the second out, and his was the second from the left I think.” Alice paused as Tenmyouji nodded, then continued. “Third was Luna, who climbed out of the rightmost elevator… Dio and Quark were next. You came out of the elevator next to Luna’s. And finally, Sigma and Phi were trapped in-”

“The third elevator from the left,” Phi interrupted.

“Wait, then…” Sigma said, realizing what she was implying.

“Yes. No one has come out of the leftmost elevator,” Alice stated.

“Are you… Are you saying there’s still someone in there?” Luna asked, looking alarmed.

“I can’t say for certain, but it would be strange if there wasn’t,” Alice said with a nod. Everyone’s gazes were focused on the last elevator after that. “Maybe we should go take a look.”

“Yea, good idea.” Sigma was the first to start towards it, jogging lightly, and everyone else was quick to follow suit. Sigma pounded his fist on the front of the elevator before calling out. “Hey! Anybody in there? If you can hear me, just… I don’t know, make some noise!” He pounded on the door again before stopping, everyone listening closely.

“... Nothing.” Dio frowned, tugging his hat down a bit. He seemed intensely bothered by it, moreso than the rest of them.

Quark tilted his head curiously. “Hey, look at this,” he said, pointing up at the plaque above the door.

“Ambidex Room...?” Sigma read aloud.

“Is that some kind of card reader?” Luna asked, pointing out a device alongside the door. “Maybe it… Unlocks it or something…”

Quark ran along the elevators, quickly sprinting back. “There’s one next to each door!”

Dio looked up again. “What do you think ‘Ambidex Room’ is supposed to mean?”

“Not sure, but it says it on all six of the elevators,” Alice points out.

Luna bit her lip. “Maybe it has something to do with the game that Zero was talking about?”

“The ‘Nonary Game, Ambidex Edition’?” Quark folded his arms and tilted his head, rocking back and forth.

“Maybe, maybe not,” Sigma said. “We can’t be sure of anything yet. I don’t think we really need to worry about that right now, though. We should be figuring out what’s inside that thing.” He turned back towards the final elevator, lips pursed. “Anybody got a key card?”

Tenmyouji shook his head. “Nah. I’ve got nothing, not even dirt.”

“So they’ve taken everything we were carrying? Wonderful,” Dio drawled, seeming annoyed again.

Everyone went through their pockets, but it was soon apparent that Dio was right. Sigma couldn’t even find any lint in the creases of his overalls.

Dio turned back to the elevator. “Maybe there’s no one in there…” Sigma noticed he seemed distinctly bothered by that proposition, though, moreso than before.

“No!” Sigma retorted, “There is. There’s gotta be…”

Dio gave him a strange look. “And what makes you so sure..?”

“Huh? Uh, well…” Sigma couldn’t tell why he was so sure there was someone else in that elevator. He just… knew.

Before they could discuss it more, however, the hatch atop the elevator opened, grabbing everyone’s attention. Luna and Quark voiced their own surprise before a figure leaped from the opening, landing in front of them.

“What the…” Sigma murmured. “Who the hell..?”

The figure appeared to be some sort of robot, tall and wrapped in a red cloth. In his arms was a small boy, Sigma had to guess around Quark’s age, wearing shorts and shirt with strange long sleeves, having pale skin and a reddish faux hawk for hair. He also seemed to be barefoot for some reason, though Sigma was more distracted by the fact that he appeared to be out cold. Tenmyouji made a strangled noise of shock beside him, eyes wide with disbelief, and Dio seemed to glare at the other, stepping forward before the rest could do anything. However, it was Quark who reached the stranger first.

“Oh my gosh!” He exclaimed, “Is he alright?”

“I’m not sure,” the strange robotic-looking man spoke. “He was like this when I woke up, and I’ve been unable to rouse him. I wouldn’t worry, though. He should be alright. His breathing is steady. I believe he’s only sleeping.” Carefully, the man kneeled down, sitting the boy on the floor.

Tenmyouji stepped forward. “Then he hasn’t woken up since they kidnapped him. But what’s this…”

Sigma followed his gaze, eyes widening in surprise. What he’d thought was a long-sleeve shirt with strange designs on the sleeves was actually a tank top, and the kid’s arms were lined with curved black ink. They appeared to be four-leaf clovers, with slender tendrils connecting them.

“How strange…” Luna murmured, crouching down beside the strange man and the boy. “These tattoos were done at least a year ago, from what I can tell, but the fourth leaf on these clovers was done within the past week at least. But why..?”

No one seemed to have an answer for that, Sigma assumed since none of them had seen the kid before.

The strange man spoke up again, sounding confused. “I don’t mean to distract, but… Kidnapped? I’m afraid I don’t understand what you mean. Where are we? And… Who are you?”

“Whoa, hold on.” Sigma stood, giving the robotic-looking man a stern look as Tenmyouji took the kid. “How about you tell us who you are first. You leap out of that box dressed up like some kinda robot, carrying an unconscious kid, and we’ve only got your word for it that you weren’t the cause of it. I think you owe us an explanation, pal!”

“I’m…” The man trailed off, bringing a hand to his chin. “Hm. Who am I?”

Everyone stared at him, stunned. Sigma just blinked. “What?”

“I don’t remember,” the man stated. “I don’t remember… anything. I have no idea where I am, who I am, or even what day it is,” he said. Sigma supposed he at least sounded a bit distressed at the revelation. “If you happen to know any of those things, I would very much appreciate it if you shared that information. Not knowing one’s identity is… vexing.”

They were all silent for a few moments, just staring at one another. It was Dio that finally broke the silence, sounding more than slightly miffed. “Oh yea, very original: the amnesiac routine! Please,” he spat. “How are we supposed to take you seriously when you’re wearing this… this… this robot suit! We can’t even see your face! Are you gonna tell us someone forced you into that thing?”

“I assume so?” The man didn’t seem very fazed by Dio’s accusations, only mildly confused. “It seems the most reasonable explanation. When I woke up, I was wearing this… armor, I suppose you could call it?”

Tenmyouji took a step back, holding the kid snug in his arms. Sigma was a bit surprised a man his age was holding the kid that easily. “You look pretty calm for a man who doesn’t know who he is.”

“‘Look’? That’s an odd choice of words,” the robotic-looking man stated. “I’m wearing a mask. How would you know how I ‘look’?”

“Tch. You know what I meant, you smartass.” Their bickering was broken by a small noise coming from the boy in Tenmyouji’s arms. “Shit, he’s waking up.” He kneeled down, letting the kid sit. “Hey, are you okay..?”

The boy looked up slowly, green gaze settling on each of them as he slowly turned his head. “... You’re all going to die here.”

Sigma took an involuntary step back at the chilling tone in the kid’s voice. “What the hell?”

A soft murmur passed through the group at the words, and suddenly the child sat up sharply, looking at them with wide eyes. “Oh! Wait, you’re not- Huh. Well that’s weird.” He picked himself up and dusted himself off, beginning to rock on his feet. “Where are we? What’s going on?”

Tenmyouji carefully picked himself up, and together, they began explaining everything they knew so far to the robot man and the redheaded kid. They both listened intently until Alice mentioned Zero and the Nonary Game, where the kid seemed to flinch pretty violently.

“Oh…” The kid murmured, looking down at his bare feet. “I guess it really is…”

Sigma frowned. This kid seemed to know something, what with that strange comment about them all dying, followed by seeming to have mistaken them for someone else. However, it didn’t feel quite right to question a kid, and Sigma got the feeling that even if he did know something, this near child wasn’t a threat here. Instead, he turned to the robotic man, as did the others.

“When did you lose your memory?” Tenmyouji pressed.

“When? That’s a difficult question…” The man seemed thoughtful as he spoke. “I suppose… When I was born? I don’t remember anything of my life. Assuming I had one…”

Sigma, Tenmyouji, and Alice began asking everything they could think of- birth date, address, occupation, family, childhood- but all he did was shake his head.

Luna finally spoke up from where she stood beside Quark and the other boy. “I think he has generalized amnesia. It’s a type of memory loss. People affected by it retain knowledge like language, social common sense, memorized facts, abilities they’ve learned… But anything that has to do with, um, themselves, is just… lost. It’s a very serious condition. Most research suggests that it’s mainly psychological, not physiological, but in very rare instances it has been shown to result from severe head trauma,” she explained.

“Do you have any idea what might have caused it?” Sigma asked.

“Hm…” The masked man brought a hand to his chin again, thinking. “Maybe I had a really bad breakup? Hahaha…” He made a strange sort of noise Sigma could only assume was supposed to be a laugh. With the mask on, there was no way to tell if he was smiling or not, but Sigma didn’t think his voice made it sound like he was.

“Bullshit!” Dio cried out. “This guy’s obviously full of it! Don’t tell me you’re actually buying this!”

Dio’s outburst was greeted with an awkward silence. It wasn’t as if they trusted the strange robotic man, only that it seemed as though he was in the same boat as the rest of them: there was a bracelet on his wrist as well. Closer inspection revealed that his armor was fitted around the bracelet. It was attached to his arm like the rest of them, rather than simply being a part of the suit. Just like the rest, his had a 3 on it as well, though his was the green PAIR. Glancing over, Sigma could see the strange kid’s was the same.

Sigma wondered how long they’d been there. His head still felt foggy and cluttered, and he couldn’t tell if he’d been asleep for hours, days, or even weeks. There was no way to know.

Sigma tried the pink door, attempting to force it open. “Damnit. No dice.”

“Didn’t I tell you that?” Quark said, sounding a bit smug.

Sigma rolled his eyes. “Yea, well, just thought I’d try…”

Luna stepped forward. “There’s a box here. Maybe it’s some sort of locking thing, like the ones next to the elevators? I don’t think it’s a card reader, though…”

“Huh. Yea, I think you’re right,” Sigma replied, taking a closer look. It was kind of like the one next to the 9 door, except it was just the display reading LOCK. Not much they could do about it right then.

Sigma looked around again, deciding to try to talk to the kid and surprised to find him over by the wall. He appeared to be looking up, staring at the strange graffiti. Quark and Luna followed him over to the kid.

“Two milkmen go comedy,” read Luna, making the kid jump and turn around. “Ah, sorry. I’m just not sure what that’s supposed to mean.”

“Maybe it’s saying that a pair of milkmen decided to become comedians?” Sigma suggested. “Still just kinda sounds like nonsense, though…”

“I think it’s someone’s way of saying hello,” the kid stated matter-of-factly.

“Um… What?” Sigma looked down at him, raising a brow.

“It’s a hello!”

“Okay, but… What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Sigma asked.

The kid opened his mouth again, but Phi interrupted. “It’s an anagram.”

The kid glared at her for a moment before looking back to Sigma. “Yep! Watch this!” He kneeled down and used a finger to write two sentences in the dust on the floor. The first was the same as the one on the wall, “TWO MILKMEN GO COMEDY!”, while the second was “WELCOME TO MY KINGDOM!”. He even took the time to show where the letters went.

Sigma wouldn’t admit it aloud, but it did help. “Oh… Alright then. If you switch it around… Yea, that makes sense.”

“Seems like somebody was expecting us, doesn’t it?” Tenmyouji asked.

“Yea, but…” Sigma looked around once more. “Where are they? Pretty rude to invite somebody over and not even offer them a drink,” he joked.

“True…” Phi stated, “But you’re assuming that Zero isn’t one of us.”

Everyone stared at her in surprise. Sigma was the first to speak, however. “Wh-what?”

Suddenly, a high giggle sounded throughout the warehouse area. Everyone looked up and around in confusion. “Look, over there!” Dio called out. He pointed to where a projector was shot onto a wall, the rabbit from before appearing there. Before it, or anyone else could say anything, though, the redheaded boy ran up with a laugh.

“Bunny!” He called, hopping up in front of the projection. “Are you gonna try to kill me too?”

There was a stunned silence where all of them stared in shock, even Zero, and Sigma got the feeling it hadn’t really prepared for that sort of thing.

“Well…” Zero said, tilting its head, “I won’t, not if you follow the rules, but there’s no telling what these others will do~”

“Oh. Okay!”

Zero just stared at the kid for a few moments. “... Well you’re just a cheerful little Bloodsplatter, aren’t you?”

The kid shrugged. “I guess.”

Sigma shook his head and stepped forward. “Okay, seriously, who the hell are you? No, not you Zero,” he said when it seemed the rabbit was about to respond, “we can deal with you later. I mean you, kid.”

The kid turned around, rocking back and forth on his feet. “That’s a good question.”

“Do you have amnesia too?” Luna asked softly.

“Nope. I know where I grew up and how I grew up and other people and where I lived and all that.” The kid tapped a finger to his lips, thinking.

“So…” Sigma continued on, “Do you have a name?”

The kid looked sad at that. “... Not anymore, I guess. All that stuff belongs to the other one now.” Sigma’s brow furrowed, and he could see others look similarly confused and concerned out of the corner of his eye. “Alright, well… Is there something we can call you, then?”

“Hm…” The kid looked all around before pausing, seeming to be listening to something. “... Lyon. Yea, that sounds good. L-Y-O-N. Lyon.” He smiled, seeming satisfied.

“... Are you done now.” Zero sounded a touch testy at that, and everyone turned their attention to him. Sigma figured he could ask Lyon more about what the hell he was talking about later. “As I was trying to say before I was so rudely interrupted… Shame on you, Phido!” Zero scolded. “You can’t say what I’m about to say before I say it. I’ve got a plan you know, I can’t just tell you everything all at once! Although… I suppose things are starting to get exciting...” Zero trailed off with another giggle.

“Where are you, you little bastard?” Dio growled out. “Too scared to come out and face me like a man?!”

“Are you an idiot?” Zero asked, seeming unfazed. “I’m a rabbit. You really think a talking rabbit is a real thing?”

“Of course I don’t!” Dio shot back. “You’re some kind of CG rabbit or something, probably. That’s not what I meant, though!”

“Oooooh!” Zero’s tone was mocking. “You meant you want to see the person who’s controlling me? I guess God touched this one a little too hard.”

“What?!”

“Weren’t you listening to Phido? She’s clever, you know,” Zero stated cheerily.

“Wait…” Sigma took a step forward, looking up at Zero. “Then… you’re saying… Zero is one of us?”

“Well, yes, I guess that’s one way to put it,” Zero said mysteriously.

“Are you really sure? You’re responding to our questions and stuff right now,” Quark pointed out. “That means you’re not just, like, a video somebody made. Wouldn’t that  mean that Zero would have to be controlling you and sending you answers right now? Because it doesn’t look like anyone’s doing that…”

Zero practically rolled his eyes. “Well of course they aren’t. I’m an AI,” he stated proudly.

“What’s that?” Lyon asked, tilting his head.

“I’m an artificial intelligence powered by a quantum computer,” Zero the III explains proudly. “Zero is the one who built me, of course.  So I guess that makes one of you my parent! Now, are you a mommy, or a daddy~? Ah ah ah! That would be telling!”

“Well I’m not a daddy. I’m too young for that.” Lyon put his hands on his hips, frowning.

“Looks like someone else here is touched in the head,” Zero deadpanned. “Now… With that said, I guess I should probably tell you that I’m not the one who brought you here. I mean, obviously. I don’t even have a body. I’m just the… facilitator for this facility. I just do what I’m told to do!”

“And what do you… facilitate?” Luna asked softly.

“Didn’t I say?” Zero responded. “The game, of course!”

“Oh, the… Nonary Game, Ambidex Edition?” Sigma murmured aloud.

“Correct! It’s my job to make sure it runs smooooooooothly.”

Lyon gave a soft sigh. “Huh. So there’s another version of this game…”

Sigma frowned, glancing at the kid. There was no way he didn’t know something.

“So… What is the ‘Nonary Game’?” Quark asked.

“‘Nonary’ refers to a base-9 numeral system,” the strange masked man started, “but can also mean something that is, in some way, related to the number nine. ‘Nona’ can be used as a prefix as well, where it means essentially the same thing. Therefore it stands to reason that the ‘Nonary Game’ is a game that deals with the number nine in some way.”

“Exactly. Nine is a very, very important number in this game. After all, nine is your goal!”

“Goal?” Alice asked suspiciously.

“Yes, goal! You see that door in front of you?” Zero said, motioning to the large, steel door with the red 9 painted on it. “That’s your door. If you can open the door with a nine on it, you can escape.”

“Wh-what do we have to do to open it?” Luna asked.

“Yes, yes, yes. Let me explain. Look at your left wrists,” Zero directed, “You see the bracelet? Of course you do. Now tell me Phido, what number is on yours?”

“A three.”

“What about the rest of you?”

“They’re all the same,” Phi said in annoyance, “We’ve all got threes.”

“Exactly. I’m going to call those numbers ‘Bracelet Points’! If you’re feeling lazy, you can just call them ‘BP.’ Only the people who can get their number to nine or more will be able to open the door with the nine on it and escape. See that box on the wall?” Zero motioned to the strange device by the large door. “That’s how you’ll get out. Anyone with greater-than-or-equal-to nine BP can pull that lever and the door will open. HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWEVER! There are three rules you carrot forget! One! The number nine door will only stay open for nine seconds! When your time's up, it’ll close automatically, so be careful. Two! The number nine door only opens once. Once that hoppens, it’s alllllll over. It’ll close for good after nine seconds, so if you’re not careful you could get stuck. Three! Now maybe some of you are thinking “Oh ho, if my BP is too low, then I’ll just have someone with enough BP open the door, and I’ll just slip through when it’s open!’ Well that’s not gonna lapin! If you think you can be sneaky, well…” Zero trailed off.

Sigma frowned. “Well what?

Zero giggled. “Oh, I really shouldn’t say that yet. All you need to know is that anybunny who tries to sneak out gets hit with a biiiiiig penalty.”

“And what the hell does that mean?” Dio growled.

“I’ll tell you later,” Zero said with a smirk.

“Hey bunny!” Lyon shouted, “Why’d you start making rabbit puns all over?”

This question seemed to throw Zero off a bit. “Uh… Well, um… ‘Cause I felt like it? I thought it might make me sound cute...”

Everyone stared at him for a few moments in varying stages of disbelief and incredulousness.

Tenmyouji groaned. “Never mind that. You still haven’t told us what we need to know most. How do we get BP?”

Lyon seemed to tense up at that, looking to Zero warily. Zero simply grinned, which looked incredibly disconcerting on its lapin face. “Oh that’s easy! Just use the Ambidex Room. If you like abbreviations, you can always call it the AB Room instead.”

“You mean those uh… Elevators?” Quark asked.

“Gold star!”

“So how do we go about using them?” Alice asked.

“How else do you use a room? You go in.”

“You mean through those hatches?” Sigma asked. It was the only way they could figure out how to get in at the moment.

“No. I had a hutch you might try that, so I closed them up tight while we were talking,” Zero answered proudly. "So don’t be hatching any hatch plans, you understand? I live in the master computer. That means all the electronic doors in this whooooole warren are under my control.”

“How do we get in, then?” Dio asked in annoyance. Sigma couldn't blame him. Getting answers from this weird AI felt more like pulling teeth. “We tried them, they’re all locked.”

“There’s a card reader next to each one, isn’t there?” Zero asked. “All you gotta do is slide a card through, and there you go!”

The masked man was the next to pose a question. “Where do we find those key cards?”

“Well, we don’t got ‘em,” Tenmyouji continued, “and there weren’t any in the warehouse…”

“Oh, well, no, of course there wouldn’t be any there.”

“Then where are they?” Luna asked.

Zero chuckled. “I think you’ll find what you’re looking for behind the Chromatic Doors. Those are those three pretty doors just to your right!

“Huh? Hold on…” Quark frowned, looking over at them. “I thought those doors were locked.”

“Quirk.”

“What?”

“You see those buttons on the sides of your watch? Can you press them at the same time?”

“Why?”

“To make little boys ask questions. Just press them, please. In fact, why doesn’t everybunny press their buttons as well!”

Sigma did as asked, seeing everyone else do the same out of the corners of his eyes. “Hey,” he said, frowning as the three changed to a 00:10. “What’s this number?”

“The two digits on the left show hours, and the two on the right show minutes,” Zero explained.

“Does that mean it’s 12:10 in the morning?” Alice asked.

“No,” Zero replied shortly. As he did, the number changed from 00:10 to 00:09.

“Oh!” Lyon sounded surprised. “The number went down!”

“So… That would mean this must be counting down to something, right?” Luna asked, looking up to Zero again.

“Correct,” Zero said, crossing his stubby rabbit forelimbs. “I don't even need to explain the rest, do I?”

“I’m guessing this is the time until the Chromatic Doors unlock?” Tenmyouji figured.

“Ding ding ding ding! Very impressive, Tenmyoldy!”

Tenmyouji grumbled softly as Lyon turned to him. “What’s your name again?”

Tenmyouji looked to him, seeming somewhat wary. “Tenmyouji.”

Lyon frowned. “Temji… Tenmyah- Tenmyoh… Can I just call you Tenny?”

Strangely, Tenmyouji looked like he’d just been slapped. “I… Yea, if you want, I guess.”

“All right!” Zero called, grabbing their attention again. “Lettuce review what we’ve learned: In nine minutes the Chromatic Doors will open automatically. However! Just like the number nine door, they won’t stay open forever. You have five minutes. Once your time is up, the doors will close no matter what, so I hop you’ve gone through by then! That’s just the primary door… Each door in this warren has a twin! Isn’t that nice?” Zero giggled. “The Chromatic Doors aren’t any different. There’s one door on this side… One door on the other side. Unfortunately, the secondary Chromatic Door on the other side is locked too.”

Tenmyouji rolled his eyes. “Couldn’t make it easy for us, could you…”

“Of course, you’ll all have to split up,” Zero continued, seeming to ignore him. “Bloodsplatter! Can you tell me what the three primary colors are, or is your brain so scrambled you don’t even know that.”

Lyon huffed softly, putting his hands on his hips. “Hey, I’m not scrambled or nothing! I’m not stupid either!”

“Hey, I’m not the one running around without shoes on.”

Lyon frowned. “What’s that have to do with my brain?”

“Just answer the question. Do you know them?”

“Well, if you’re talking painting, they’re red, blue, and yellow, but judging by the fact that the doors over there are yellow, magenta, and cyan, I’m guessing you mean the primary colors where light is involved, which are red, blue, and green,” Lyon replied. Sigma could tell he wasn’t the only one surprised with his response, but Lyon paid them no mind. “You mix red and blue for magenta, green and red for yellow, and blue and green for cyan.”

“That’s right!” Zero replied cheerily. “Now take another look at the nice bracelets you’re all wearing. Notice how they come in three vibrant colors?”

“Yeah, yeah, we get it already.” Phi sighed, shaking her head. “We mix the colors to go through the different doors. Is that right?”

“Wonderful! I think you get it. There is one other little thing, though…”

“You’re talking about what happens if you’ve got two of the same color, right?” Tenmyouji asked.

“Yep. What do you think happens?”

“How the hell would I know?”

Zero snickered. “If you want to open a door but all you’ve got is one color, then you can use that to open a door with the complementary color to the one you’ve got.”

“Hm, I see… So if you’ve got reds, you can open the cyan door, blues get the yellow door, and greens can open the magenta door,” Tenmyouji explained aloud.

“Right again! Looks like your brain hasn’t rotted away yet, Tenmyoldy!” Zero mocked.

Tenmyouji growled. “Just what the hell’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means exactly what it says!” Zero said innocently. “I was trying to compliment you, you know… Ah well. Let’s continue, shall we? There are two types of bracelets: Pairs and solos. That means there’s two types of players too! Pairs and solos. In this game, the two members of a pair are considered to be a single entity, which means they share the saaaaaame destiny. Isn’t that a good deal? I mean, you get two for the price of one! Unfortunately, it also means they carrot split up. Both members of a pair have to go through the same Chromatic Door. Solos don’t have any restrictions like that, though. I mean, why would they? They’re forever alone. But that means that they can go whereeeeeever they want. Yaaaay! Now, let’s take another look at all of your bracelets.”

One by one, Zero called their names, and each answered. Sigma and Phi were the red pair, Alice was the red solo, Dio and Quark were the blue pair, Luna the blue solo, Tenmyouji the green solo, and Lyon a green pair.

“And finally…” Zero turned to the mysterious masked man. “Um, who are you?”

“I’m… Uh… Let’s see…” The masked man sounded thoughtful, bringing a hand up to his chin. “I suppose you can call me… K.”

“I knew it!” Dio jumped on the opportunity. “You were just lying about that amnesia crap!”

“I’m not lying,” the man, apparently called K, stated simply. “This was just a… how do I put it… a flash of insight, I suppose. I saw the letter K.”

“So?! What does ‘K’ have to do with anything?” Dio snarled.

“I wish I knew,” K replied. “Sadly, I have no idea. Does it mean anything to you?”

Dio grumbled and looked away, crossing his arms. Alice chuckled softly. “Come on now, boys, you can fight later. Now ah, K… Can I call you that?” She waited for K to nod before continuing. “I’m guessing your bracelet is the same as Lyon’s?”

“That’s right, it says ‘PAIR’ and the text is green,” K said, holding up his wrist again.

“Okay! I’m glad we got all that bracelet business out of the way,” Zero chimed in again. “Now, lettuce return to the subject at hand… How do you open the secondary door? So, Siggy, what would you do to get through the magenta door?”

Sigma crossed his arms, thinking. “Well, Phi and I can’t split up since we’re part of the same Pair… If we’re red, I guess we should pair up with Luna, right? Since she’s a blue solo.”

“Or you could work with Mr. Dio and me,” Quark added. “We’re blue too.”

“Whoops!” Zero interrupted them. “Oh celerysticks, I forgot to tell you. You have to have exactly three people in your group to open the secondary door. That means you can’t have two people, or four people, or, well, anything other than three, really.”

“Then our only choice is to pair up with Luna,” Sigma said.

“Pretty much. Aaaaand I guess I should probably tell you that the secondary door won’t open until the primary door closes. It’s made that way to keep out cheaters . We didn’t want a fourth or fifth person just running in at the last minute like, ‘AAAAAAAAH WAIT FOR ME’ when the right people open the door. But if the primary door closes first, then that’s impossible! You see? It all makes sense.” Zero seemed to wait for them to say something, but everyone just watched him. “... Anywho… Might have run a hare too long in my explanation, but now I’m aaaaaaaaaaaaaall done. Any questions?”

They all went quiet as they went over the information in their own heads. Sigma could hear Quark muttering softly to himself, seeming to repeat some of the rules, and Lyon’s bare feet padded softly against the ground, while the sound of Phi’s tapping foot was much sharper.

“Good?” Zero asked. “Excellent. Looks like none of you have any questions. Yay.”

“Huh? No, wait!” Sigma finally spoke up. “We have questions, of course we have questions! What’s the point of this game?! Why did you take us ?! Where are we?! And who the hell is the real Zero?!”

As he finished speaking, a strange ringing sound started from nearby. He looked over quickly to see the little screens beside the CDs change from LOCK to OPEN. An announcer sounded from above them.

“Chromatic Doors have opened. Five minutes remain until Chromatic Doors close.”

“Ohhh, so sorry guys,” Zero said, sounding completely unapologetic, “But it looks like your time’s up. You’d better hop to it and get those secondary doors open.”

“Fuck that! We aren’t gonna open shit!” Dio yelled. “You can take your Lame-ary Game and shove it up your ass!” Sigma could hear Lyon and Quark giggle softly, but it was nearly drowned out as Dio continued. “If you think we’re just gonna swallow your psychotic crap and play along, you’ve got another think coming, you smart-ass little rodent!”

“I’m a rabbit…” Zero said sadly.

“Shut up!”

“Well shoot… I thought you might say that.” Zero didn’t seem the least bit bothered by it. “Unfortunately, you have no choice but to follow the rules…”

“Why is that?” K asked.

“When the time comes, those three doors will automatically close. If anyone is left outside after they close, they’ll… Well, they’ll be penalized.”

“You keep saying that!” Dio growled. “What the hell is this ‘penalty’ anyway?!”

“Well…” Zero seemed to consider it for a moment. “Death.”

Everyone reacted with varying degrees of alarm. Luna held her hands over her heart, while Quark and Tenmyouji stepped close to one another. Alice was grimacing and Dio looked more pissed than ever. Phi’s jaw was clenched tight. Only K and Lyon’s expressions were unreadable. K’s because of his mask, while Lyon’s simply seemed… cold.

Zero carried on. “Your bracelets contain two drugs. The first is an anesthetic called Soporil Beta. the other is a muscle relaxant called tubocurarine. Your bracelet also has a bunch of needles on the inside. If you break the rules, those needles hop out and inject you. First is the Soporil, which puts you to sleep. Nine minutes later, the tubocurarine is injected, numbing your respiratory muscles. I guess you could say it’ll really take your breath away! You should know that the Soporil is only there out of the kindness of Zero’s heart. Oh, and I mean the real Zero, not me. Zero just doesn’t want to see anybunny suffer. Isn’t that just soooo compassionate? If I had a heart, it’d be melting right now! Anyway, all it means is that you’ll die pretty painlessly, so hey, there’s nothing to worry about really. Of course, none of that will happen if you just follow the rules…”

The announcer chimed above them again. “Three minutes remain until Chromatic Doors close.”

“Well then, looks like it’s time for me to hop on out of here,” Zero said cheerily. “Good luck, guys! See you all later! Have a nice trap!” The screen flickered away, leaving them all there stunned.

Sigma grimaced, looking down at the bracelet again. He didn’t exactly have much choice other than to trust what the rabbit was saying about the poison in the bracelets. He sure as hell didn’t want to test that theory, anyways. There was a lot to think about but they didn’t have much time. As if reading his mind, Luna finally spoke up.

“What are we waiting for?!” She exclaimed softly. “We need to go! We need to get through these other doors!”

“But… How do we figure out which door to go through?” Quark asked.

Phi sighed, sounding exasperated. “You still don’t get it? Fine, just pay attention, we don’t have much time. Zero’s explanation was pretty confusing, so let me put it into small words for you: There are only three possible options.” She held up one finger.

“Option A: Sigma and I pair up with Luna, red and blue through the magenta door. Lyon and K would go with Alice, green and red to make yellow, with Dio and Quark going with Tenmyouji through the cyan door. Got it?” Phi glanced around as everyone nodded.

Phi held up a second finger. “Option B: Sigma and I go with Tenmyouji, so we can use red and green to go through the yellow door. Lyon and K would go with Luna through the cyan door, and Dio and Quark would go with Alice through the magenta door.” She glanced around again before holding up a third finger.

“And finally, Option C, where we match up for the complimentary-colored doors. That means Sigma, Alice and I go through the cyan door, Lyon, K, and Tenmyouji go through the magenta door, and Dio, Quark, and Luna go through the yellow door. Problem is, which do we chose?”

Luna turned to Sigma, looking worried. “Please Sigma, chose something!”

Sigma stumbled backa  bit. “What? W-wait, what ?! Why me..?”

“If you don’t want to, then maybe Alice or Tenmyouji can chose,” she said, “Or Lyon or Quark or… anyone! Once one person chooses, everyone else’s decisions will be made for them. But please, you have to hurry! We’re almost out of time!”

As if to support her, the announcer chimed again. “One minute remains until Chromatic Doors close.”

“All right, all right!” Sigma yelled a little louder than he intended. “I’ll pick!”

Nobody seemed upset, to Sigma’s relief, likely because they realized that they didn’t have time to bicker.

Sigma took a deep breath and spoke. “Okay. Phi and I will…”

 

-Go through the Magenta door with Luna

-Go through the Yellow Door with Tenmyouji

-Go through the Cyan door with Alice

Chapter Text

Sigma took a deep breath and spoke. “Okay. Phi and I will…”

 

-Go through the Magenta door with Luna

-Go through the Yellow Door with Tenmyouji

-Go through the Cyan door with Alice

 

“I think we’ll pair up with Luna and head through the magenta door. Are you guys good with that?”

Phi nodded. “Sure.”

“All right,” Luna replied softly.

K turned his head to the others. “Then Lyon and I will go with Alice.”

“Okay!” Lyon chirped.

“I don’t have any objections,” Alice said with a nod. “We’ll be going through the yellow door, right?”

Tenmyouji sighed. “That means Dio, Quark, and I are doing the cyan door.”

“Ugh,” Dio grumbled, “Stuck with one of the kids and old farts… I can’t see how this could possibly go badly.”

“Hmph. Well, maybe we’ll get lucky and you’ll pull your head out of your ass.”

Dio glared at him, but before he could say any more, the Announcer started counting down from ten. It was a mad scramble for the doors and Sigma managed to yank Phi in beside himself and Luna as the primary door began to slide shut with the Announcer’s voice.

---Lounge Escape (Nothing Changes Here)---

The three of them exited the lounge, following the map down the hall. It lead to what appeared to be some sort of elevator.

“Another elevator, huh?” Sigma said upon approaching the door.

“Do you think it works?” Luna asked, giving him a soft smile.

Sigma shrugged. “Only one way to find out.” He reached forward, about to push the button, when Phi’s voice stopped him.

“Hey, someone’s coming,” she said, turning to face back the way they’d come.

The footsteps became audible to Sigma just after, and Quark and Lyon burst through the door, followed by Alice and K, then Dio and Tenmyouji.

Everyone was panting except for the two youngest members of their group, who were giggling together. Sigma put it aside for now and turned to the others. “What’s going on here?”

“We ran into them a little bit ago,” Alice answered after she’d caught her breath. “Well, not literally of course, for the most part.”

“Quark and Lyon actually did run into each other, which was pretty hilarious to watch,” Dio jabbed with a light grin. “Then they ran all the way here. They’ve got too much fucking energy.”

K chuckled. “They’re younger, it’s only to be expected.”

Phi shook her head. “Here, hand me the map,” she said to Sigma.

Sigma did so, and she carefully pointed out the routes they’d all taken on the map. Each had only one place to lead- this elevator.

“Ah, I get it. All three routes end up here,” Sigma said, rubbing his neck.

K put a hand on his chin. “That’s the same as the map we found in the infirmary.”

“Oh, we found a map like that too!” Quark chimed in. “Ours was in the crew quarters.”

“Is that so…” Sigma studied the map again. “We found ours in the lounge.”

“Hm. Maybe we should sit down for a bit and exchange information,” Tenmyouji suggested.

“No,” Phi said firmly. “There’s plenty of time for that after we check out this elevator.”

Everyone looked to her for a moment before glancing to each other. She didn’t wait for them, simply pressing the button that Sigma assumed was a down arrow. When the door opened, they all piled into the elevator, and it seemed to jitter some as it went down. As the door opened and everyone filed out, Dio groaned.

“What the… This is just like the other floor,” he said.

Luna hummed softly. “These doors have colors on them too. Left is green, middle is blue, and right is red.”

Quark stepped forward, looking them over. “Are these Chromatic Doors? Look, there’s a box here, just like the ones we saw earlier.”

Lyon tilted his head, eyes following Quark’s pointing finger. “Guess they’re all locked again.”

Sigma tried to pull the door open anyways, grunting softly with the strain of the metal. “... Yea, won’t budge.”

Tenmyouji shook his head. “Just like the other doors. No good trying to force it open, I suppose.”

“Oi, Alice, why are you staring at your bracelet?” Dio asked her, drawing everyone’s attention again.

Alice pursed her lips. “I had a hunch, and looks like I was right. The numbers have changed.”

“Numbers..?” Sigma asked, hoping for clarification before realizing what she meant. “Oh, yea, the time left.”

They all reached down to check their bracelets, clicking the two buttons on the sides. 02:06 replaced the bright red 3 on Sigma’s bracelet. “Looks like… Two hours left.”

Dio groaned. “Oh for fuck’s sake. Are you telling me we’re gonna have to sit around here and wait for another TWO hours?!”

Everyone was quiet for a few moments before Tenmyouji sighed. “Looks like we don’t have a choice, then. We gotta head back. Quark, why don’t you show ‘em that note we found.”

“Sure.”

“Oh?” K chimed in. “Did it say something like ‘Supplementary Rules’? Because if it did, we have one too. We found ours in the infirmary.”

“Yea,” Sigma said with a nod, “We found one too. It was in the safe in the lounge.”

Tenmyouji nodded to Quark. “Read them out anyways, so we know we’re all on the same page.”

Quark nodded, pulling the paper from his pocket, and began to read. “Hare are a few more rules for you. Once you’ve opened a door, you can hop through it as much as you like. The Chromatic Doors are like that too. Once you open them, even I carrot keep you from going in and out of them. Any color of bracelet can go through them, and as many people as you like. But! But but but, you have to escape before you can take advantage of this Free Rein Rule. Once you’ve activated a Chromatic door and gone through it to the puzzle beyond, it warren’t let you go back until you’ve solved the puzzle.”

Sigma nodded. “If that’s true, then we can all go back the way we came and get into the warehouse…”

Phi crossed her arms. “I don’t think Zero’s saying we can… I think he’s saying we have to. Otherwise, what’s the point of that key card?”

“You mean this?” K pulled a small silver card from his pocket. “The Ambidex Room key?”

“We found some too,” Quark said as Dio pulled out the cards.

“That makes six, then. One for each AB room,” Sigma said.

Luna nodded. “Let’s head back to the warehouse.”

“So when Zero says ‘Jump,’ we say ‘How high,’ huh?” Dio didn’t sound angry this time, just… strangely resigned.

“If you don’t like it, then stay here,” Tenmyouji said with a smirk. “A stupid, angry mutt watching the door sounds about right.”

“Asshole…”

Lyon pinched Tenmyouji’s arm. “Hey, don’t be mean!”

Tenmyouji winced and rubbed his arm. “Hey, hey, jeez…”

It was obvious Dio was trying not to grin at that. Sigma shook his head and pushed the button for them to go back up.

Alice just sighed, walking back towards the door. “And here I thought we only had two children with us.”

Tenmyouji and Dio made noises of indignation as Lyon and Quark laughed. The group made their way back up the elevator and headed to the lounge.

K hummed softly as they paused in the room. “It would seem Zero’s notes were telling the truth. Getting back here was easy enough.”

Alice nodded. “That means we could go visit the infirmary, too.”

“Or the crew quarters,” Dio pointed out.

Lyon tilted his head. “What’s a lounge, anyways? This just looks like a living room with a weird thing in the corner,” he said, pointing to the bar.

Tenmyouji chuckled. “It’s kind of like that. It’s a place for people to hang out and have drinks together, if they want.”

“That sounds dumb.”

“Hey Grandpa, check this out, it’s some of your favorite scotch!” Quark interrupted, pointing to a bottle on the shelf.

Tenmyouji shook his head, smiling. “Oh… Tempting, but I don’t really think now’s the time.”

Sigma paused at listening to the conversation. Grandpa? Had they always been that close? Had they known each other before the Nonary Game? Maybe they were related. And now that he thought about it, Lyon had been awfully quick to jump to Dio’s defense, and Dio had been really worked up when there was a delay when K and Lyon came out of the last elevator… Maybe they knew each other too? Just how many people here knew each other already?

His thoughts were interrupted by Tenmyouji’s voice again. “Let’s go, buddy,” he said, holding a hand out for Quark. “As soon as we get out of here, I can drink all the scotch I want. And you can drink all the root beer floats you can stomach.”

“What?!” Quark looked startled. “You’re gonna get me a root beer float?! But… Are… Are you sure? Do you have enough money?”

“Oh ye of little faith,” Tenmyouji replied in amusement. “I found an old factory full of rare earth metals the other day.

“What’s a root beer float?” Lyon asked Quark.

Quark immediately launched into an explanation of the soda and ice cream and he and Lyon chattered along as they walked back towards the warehouse, Tenmyouji watching them in amusement.

When they arrived, Zero’s projection was already up, looking bored to tears as it gave an exaggerated yawn.