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Re: Danganronpa F6: Beneath the Surface (Chapter 4 Tribunal)Topic%20Title
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"I dunno. Old Fuckface McMagor over there never even answered whether I could." Haley crossed her arms behind her head. "I've made it a point to not vote in any trial, and I'm not about to start now. Personal promise and all that jazz."
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JesusMonroe wrote:
"I've had the odds stacked even more against me and succeeded." Benjamin smirked despite the situation. "But yes, I will concede that I can't promise a guarantee of stopping the attack. I will be able to get where I need to, but gathering the information is another ordeal entirely. All I can promise is that if I'm not released, the attack will happen."

Then he added, "You said before that you'd be giving your vote to Ivan. Do you still intend to do so, or have you changed your mind?"


"...I-I have no need for her vote."
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Brandy had been thinking during the back-and-forth between Haley and Benjamin, genuinely pondering the things Benjamin was saying.

"I'm sorry, Benjamin. I jus' can't change my vote. Even if there's some kind o' attack planned, nothin' is stoppin' anyone here from makin' you into the next victim anyway. In the event we choose to spare you n' lose 75% of our lifespans, we're still runnin' the risk o' you gettin' killed anyway. I'd say this whole debacle put a target on your back if anythin'. N' if you die, then we're all screwed anyway.

"I've been doin' a real bad job o' keepin' everyone in this expedition safe n' sound, which is a goal I had in mind since the very beginnin'. I can't run the risk o' all o' this bein' a waste. What's the point in the greater good when we might not even live to make it happen?"
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"Not a good look, Hugh."

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"I'll stop them, if I'm understanding you right Brandy."

"SHOULD THE TAINTED GET AWAY WITH MURDER, THEY SHALL BE SAFELY RETURNED TO THE SURFACE."

"Sounds like you're simply afraid to lose your natural lifespan..."

"Oh, but I guess I shouldn't say anything more."
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"...Indeed. 75% of one's life is a tall task. You're asking us to die for you, Benjamin. Maybe not immediately, but...I wonder if we're willing to be your sacrifices."
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"I already lost so much... please don't make me give away another piece o' me..." Brandy said to herself quietly.

She pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration. "I guess that is the rule, though. He would get to be returned safely, yeah..."

She looked at Benjamin with a cold, hard stare. "I'm still on the fence. It's jus' that, well, you pretty much tried to escape n' sacrifice us in the process. We don't want to die. Nobody does. What makes our lives less valuable than any o' the potential attack victims other than the number o' us? We're people, too. N' I ain't afraid to admit that I don't want to die or lose most o' my lifespan..."
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"'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing'." Benjamin simply recited that softly as Brandy and Ivan spoke at him. "Those are words worth living by. Even if I haven't been a good person for a long time..."

He looked earnestly at them. "I realize there's a risk. And I realize I'm asking a lot. But like it or not, doing nothing is a choice--you're responsible for those lives, and they will die if we do nothing."
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"..."

Ivan smiled weakly at Benjamin.

"...If it were up to me, I would let you go free in a second. You know that...but I can't ask everyone else here to do the same. It's up to them. It's out of my hands."

After a few brief moments of silence, Ivan bowed towards Benjamin.

"My card was to beat up three people without apologizing or showing remorse. I chose you due to your willingness to be a sacrifice, but...I could not bring myself to proceed without regret. How strange...I don't think that's like me at all."

"...but anyways, regardless of what happens, I need to extend a formal apology to you."
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"Hmm, it seems there is a lot for you all to consider. I think you should take a look at this. I think it shows that Benjamin was on the side of justice in this case:"

Belphegor holds out the crumpled, piece of yellow paper between his fingertips. Bits of writing are erased and written again, as if the paper was revised countless times. As if the words struggled to stay put and say what they need to:

Spoiler: To Pat
Hey Champ,

If you're reading this, I'm dead. If I was alive to talk to you, I would be talking to your face about this. I know that this is the one thing that I had to be there to say.

I always intended to tell you about what happened to your old man. I've been dreading it though. I know that I'm already good-for-jack-shit and I know that if the day came when I told you, you wouldn't ever wanna see me again.

I dropped the car on your father.

I'm not gonna try and explain it to you. I'm an old broken dumbass. I'm the same as I was back then. I've always been hanging at the bottom of my rope. I hit him because I fucking hated him. I hated him because he told me what to do with my broken shitty life, and he was right about it too.

The famous double gyroscopic turbine was all his idea. I just heard it from him and killed him. So you can set the record straight if you want. For the sake of your dad. I know he was trying to help me, but I've always been beyond help.

If you're as mad as you should be, well, that's okay. It's all deserved. I can accept that. He was a very good man and my only real friend, and your memories of me don't have to be perfect. I dug myself my hole. I'm gonna own up to it.

You don't even have to keep reading. I treasure the good times we had when I wasn't pissing and moaning about myself and sloshed to hell. I treasure the times when I was brave enough to look you in the face and talk with you. When we got to work together in the shop, when I saw you going to school and doing good. I wish it could go on. But I know I never really belonged in your life. I loved you like my own daughter, but it's over now I guess.

Anyway, the shop is all yours. I did my best to keep it all this time, knowing that if I could just keep it long enough to give it to you it would all be worth it. I know you're going to be the best mechanic that ever was if you keep at it. It's okay though if you want to find something new now.

Love,

Matt


Written on the letter is a note in smaller, quicker handwriting.

Spoiler: Note
Benjamin, I know you're gonna be around until the very end, so if you're looking at this letter, please be sure it makes its way to Pat Daley in Rattlewater. Hopefully we can meet again in hell some day. - Matt
Re: Danganronpa F6: Beneath the Surface (Chapter 4 Tribunal)Topic%20Title
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Haley bit her lip, considering it. Her hand hovered over her podium, shaking, twitching. Would she... would she break her own rule for this???

"What do we do, Nail? We can't... just not vote... can we?"

Nail sighed, the sound echoing through her mind. "I don't know. It's our personal rule to not vote so long as it kills someone, but... there's a loophole. Nobody dies in this round if we don't vote for the tainted. Our lifespans are simply decreased. In that sense, then, we aren't killing anyone because nobody will die from solely having their life expectancy shortened. So... I think... I think we should fail this one on purpose. Besides, this fulfills another goal as well."

Haley nodded, and picked someone at random, who ended up being Ivan. Not that it mattered. She looked at Benjamin, then looked away.

"Look, I'm not going to say I wanted to vote. Because I really didn't. I despise this entire set-up, and the only reason why I even voted is because nobody would die as a direct consequence of my vote. Sure, we'll all suffer shortened lifespans, but... for a little girl who's waiting, I can accept that." She looked back to Benjamin. "Give them hell."
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Benjamin didn’t say anything upon reading Matt’s letter, but he didn’t feel like a man who belonged on the side of the justice. Anybody with sight could tell that the revelation had made him feel infinitely worse—he had looked bad before but now he looked like a man who had bend stabbed in the gut.
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Benjamin stood in silence for a few minutes as he comprehended Ivan's words. Haley's words. Matt's letter. For some reason, he was feeling something. Was it guilt? Why now?

Ivan's words in particular struck him. That he would be willing to do it, yet couldn't even hurt three people. What did that say about himself?

"There's one other thing--something I've been keeping from all of you. I didn't want to tell you all because I thought you wouldn't be able to understand, or that it would compromise the expedition. But that was a lie. I understood why I said nothing--it's because the truth is horrible. And ugly."
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"The truth is rarely a pretty mistress," Brandy said. "What else could you be hidin' from us that's so vile? Givin' everythin' else that's happened to us, it must be somethin' truly awful. Out with it."
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Spoiler: Part 1
It was almost two years ago, while we were chasing down the cult. MI6 had caught wind that they were planning to release a weaponized virus. No details were known other than that, besides that the attack was imminent.

A phone call was intercepted by a man named Davros. The contents were unknown except that he had a short conversation with a phone number that had been flagged. It wasn’t the best clue, but it was our only lead at the time. I arrived at his house with two of my comrades.


GAaaaAAAGHH!” Davros screamed with horrible agony as Benjamin applied a blowtorch to his abdomen. Benjamin had been at this for over an hour now, but Davros still refused to talk. His clothes were stained with blood, some parts already dried.

“Jesus, you’re a sick fuck.” One of Benjamin’s fellow agents, Burke, looked away from the display. “Are you actually enjoying this, Bledsoe?"

Benjamin ignored him and grabbed Davros’ head so he could look in his eyes. “I promise I’ll give you something for the pain. Just tell me what I need to know.”

Davros was crying now. “I-I promise you! I don’t know anything!” His words were choked with terrible sobs.

Benjamin stood up for a moment, turning away from their suspect and going over to his fellow agents.

Butler spoke up first, “What do you think?”

“It’s never taken me this long to break someone.” Benjamin admitted.

“And?"

“I still think he’s hiding something.”

Butler nodded with disappointment while Burke threw his hands in the air. “Look at him, Bledsoe! He would’ve said something by now!”

“If he were innocent, he’d probably tell me a lie. I’m familiar with this, I can tell whether or not he’s saying what I want to hear.”

“What if you’re wrong?”

Benjamin thought of something he could say to reassure his agitated subordinate, but couldn’t think of anything. “We have just over an hour before the attack and he’s our only lead. We don’t have a choice but to continue.”

“Look, I don’t disagree.” Butler said, “But this isn’t working. We need another idea.”

“There are more than ten thousand ways to hurt someone. But in the end, there are only two kinds of pain.”

Butler and Burke were clearly uninterested in Benjamin’s cryptic quote and just waited for him to finish.

“You found nothing in the house?” Benjamin asked.

“Searched it top to bottom.”

“What about his family? They were here when we barged in.”

“We’re holding them across the street. So they wouldn’t be able to hear uh… this.”

Benjamin thought about this. Davros had a wife and two sons, ages sixteen and ten.

“Bring them here. All of them.”

Benjamin began to turn back to Davros but Burke grabbed his arm. “Hold on a fucking second! They’re innocent!”

“…”

“You’re insane. I-I refuse!”

“It’s an order.”

“No!” Burke stood his ground. “There’s no way Chapelle would approve of this. You know he wouldn’t.”

“Chapelle told me to do whatever it takes.” Benjamin looked over at the other agent. “Butler?”

“… I don’t know. We don’t even know if we have the right guy but even if we do, this still might not make him talk. This is Chapelle’s call.”

“We’ll let him know. Just bring the family over so we don’t waste any more time.”

Benjamin walked over to Davros and knelt down. “Look me in the eyes. I know you’re hiding something.” He tried his best to pierce his gaze into Davros’ soul. “I’m bringing your family here. I will hurt them, and I’ll make you watch. And I’ll make sure they know that you’re the only one who can stop it.”

Davros winced, completely unable to hold back tears. “Y-You can’t do this! You’re a federal agent!”

Benjamin only responded by looking him in the eyes. Then he took out his phone and called the Chief.


Spoiler: Part 2
Butler had brought the family over as Benjamin was connecting the call. Burke stood nearby, watching Benjamin. The two agents and Davros were all looking at Benjamin, waiting to hear what the answer would be.

“Bledsoe?” Chapelle answered the phone.

“Sir. Have you read the latest reports?”

“Yes, I’m all caught up.”

“I don’t believe he’ll talk no matter what coercive measures I try.” Benjamin explained. “I think the only leverage we have is his family.”

“Do you have any reason to believe they’re working for this cult?”

“No, sir. This is to get Davros to talk.”

“… They’re citizens, Bledsoe. I can’t allow this to happen.”

“Sir-“

“My answer is final. Keep working on Davros.”

“He’s not going to talk that way. If we want to stop this attack, we have to do everything we can.”

“I understand, but there are lines we can’t cross. This is an order—stand down.”

Click

Benjamin stood helplessly in front of everyone, the phone still to his ear. His mind was racing. Was there anything he could do?

It felt like a million possibilities raced through his mind. Every possible scenario—if he was wrong, if he was right, if this didn’t work, what would happen to him if he did this. He thought so quickly, that to the others he hadn’t even paused.

Yes, Chief. This is the best advice I can offer.” Benjamin spoke to nobody but kept the phone to his ear. Davros’ eyes widened in terror.

Benjamin paused, waiting for an imaginary response.

“I promise I wouldn’t suggest this if there were any other way.”

He paused again.

“Yes, sir. We’ll keep you updated.” He 'hung up’ and looked at the agents. “We’re a go, bring me his wife” The look of discomfort on their faces was palpable.

Davros’ wife was dragged over kicking and screaming, but they eventually restrained her in a chair. Davros was pleading the entire time, screaming at Benjamin. “PLEASE! She has nothing to do with this!”

Benjamin took out his pliers.







It had been half an hour. He had to act faster than usual, applying the most effective methods he knew. Symphonies of tormented screams from her, Davros, and the children filled the air.

“She fell unconscious again.” Benjamin sighed to Burke. “Give her another shot of adrenaline.”

Burke knelt down by her, preparing another injection.

“Holy fuck…” The color drained from Burke’s face. “Sh-s-she… she’s……. dead.”

“…what?”

“… you killed her.”

The air filled with dread. It was almost complete silence beyond the restrained weeps of the children. Benjamin realized he must’ve acted too quickly, and put her into shock.

For a moment, all he could smell was blood. For a moment, he wondered if he was doing the right thing. But just a moment.

He walked over to the oldest son.

“That’s enough!” Burke screamed. “It’s not working!”

“Then at the end of this, we’ll be able to say we did everything we can.” Benjamin stated completely calmly.

“S-Stop! I don’t know-“

Benjamin cut Davros off as he wrapped his hand around his throat and smiled. “I have no problem having you watch each of them die.” He let go and took out his knife, now walking over to the boy. He grabbed the boy’s face in a vice-like grip and turned to Davros again. “Tell me what I want to know or he loses an eye.”

Davros looked completely and utterly defeated. He was a husk—a half-dead man, wanting it all to be over.

Benjamin prepared to dig the knife in-

“STOP!” Davros yelled. "… stop.” It was barely a whisper. “… I’ll talk.”

Benjamin dropped the knife, walking over to Davros. “Where are you releasing the virus?”

“…”

Benjamin slapped him, trying to wake him up. “What’s the target?!”

… Rattlewater. It’s a town called Rattlewater.”

Benjamin looked over at the other agents. From the looks on their faces, they were as confused as he was.

Butler put ‘Rattlewater’ in his phone. “It’s a small town. Not even 2,000 people. But it’s real.” He shook his head. “This doesn’t make sense though. Why this? Why not a city?”

Benjamin looked at Davros as if he expected him to answer.

“… I don’t know. They didn’t tell me that much.”

“How are they releasing the virus?”

“They’re going to be disguised as tourists—they’ll be in an RV. Once they’re in the center of the town they were just going to infect a few people and… let it take care of itself from there.”

Benjamin had more questions, but he knew they could wait. He turned to Butler. “Get me their police chief on the phone.”

Butler made a few calls, handing the phone to Benjamin. “He was out of the office. I got the mayor for you.”

“Mr. Mayor, my name is Benjamin Bledsoe. I have information of an imminent attack on your town.”


Benjamin paused for a long time as he finished recounting his story. He closed his eyes, perhaps not wanting to see how the others were reacting.

“And that was that. We were successful in stopping the attack, but I was court-martialed when the report came out. In exchange for pleading guilty and keeping the trial under wraps, I made sure Burke and Butler avoided a prison sentence. But they lost their badges. As for me, I was given a life sentence. No parole."
Re: Danganronpa F6: Beneath the Surface (Chapter 4 Tribunal)Topic%20Title
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Brandy seemed to be uncomfortable by the end of Benjamin's story. The idea that a virus could've been let loose in their town without them being capable of stopping it alone made her antsy.

"While I have to thank you for stoppin' that attack... I can't approve of your methods, not that you were expectin' any o' us to. You view people as a means to an end -- that much was made clear by this trial alone. You're capable. Nobody's denyin' that...

"...but, his wife..." Brandy trailed off. It was a lot to take in.
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Seb was wearing a very unusual expression. It was like the time they first found Mr Gardner's body, nearly blank, but his eyes looked dead and whatever respect he'd held for Benjamin seemed to have vanished. Despite that, he said, "I can see why you made that decision. Very... logical. All for the greater good. But you crossed a line that even still I'm not sure I can agree with. How annoyingly... complicated.

"Putting that aside for a moment, the fact that the target was Rattlewater of all places... Things just get stranger and stranger the longer we're down here. After all our previous theories, it sounds like the mayor isn't part of the cult at all, quite the opposite. Just what are we even meant to do with all this information? Even if we make a choice now I couldn't possibly tell if it was right or wrong."
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“I believe Rattlewater was a 'test' of sorts. Dispersing the virus on a smaller population before the main event--the attack that's incoming. But that's just my guess." Benjamin shrugged, face weary from telling the story.

"I didn’t tell you all that story because I think you owe me--I told you so you could understand. I sacrificed 100% of my lifespan, my freedom, for strangers. What happened to that woman was tragic, but I knew it had to be done. I knew I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I knew there was something I could've done. In the end, I knew my actions saved lives and I was able to live with myself." He paused for a moment. "My main regret is that we live in a world so terrible that it needs monsters like me.”

He looked at everyone else with an earnest expression. “Even a short life is precious. But I believe joy can be born through suffering. And a long life of regret is the worst scenario. You don't have to kill an innocent woman, your choice will only hurt yourself. I know it's difficult to imagine when you grow up in a small town, but the people in danger are akin to hundreds--thousands of Rattlewaters. They have their own hopes, dreams, mistakes...”

Just as quickly, he turned stone-serious again. “I believe you're all strong enough to do this, but in the end it's your life--make your own choice. Make the choice you won't regret, the one you'll be able to live with. The decision is yours."
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"...I...I think you all should let Benjamin free," Ivan said to the others. "Vote for me like the witch, if you'd like, but...I think that's the right thing to do."
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Oliver winced as Benjamin recounted the story, looking very unsettled, to say the least. He huffed in thought. "What you did to that woman and those children was inexcusable. There's no doubt about that, even if you did have the best intentions in mind. You tortured and killed an innocent woman, and traumatized two perfectly innocent children likely for life. But even then..."

He rubbed his eyes, looking noticably weary. "... If millions of lives are truly at risk, then I will vote for someone else so Benjamin can share this information as soon as he can. As much as I want to live my life to its fullest... If I must sacrifice most of my remaining lifespan to save them, so be it. That is my stance on the situation."
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"I've... already come to accept that I might not live through this. Why should cutting my lifespan be any different? It's not a decision to be made likely, and it's still possible I'll come to regret it, but I've made my choice."
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Brandy sighed. “I’m such a coward... all y’all ready to lay down your lives n’ I’m bein’ fussy ‘bout it. You win, Benjamin. I’ll change my vote. Please do the right thing with your freedom.”
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"Not a good look, Hugh."

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"A MAJORITY HAS BEEN REACHED."

Belphegor stands there, as if staring through them with his non-existent eyes.

Spoiler: Result
"YOU HAVE FAILED. MATT GUSTILY IS NOT THE TAINTED. BENJAMIN BLEDSOE IS THE TRUE TAINTED."

"AS SUCH, THE SIX OF YOU EXCLUDING BENJAMIN SHALL LOSE 75% OF YOUR REMAINING LIVES."

"I suppose there shall be no execution. Benjamin Bledsoe has been set free. Say your goodbyes if you would like before he is allowed his escape."

The vote has become final. Everyone feels the dread of knowing that their lives will be much shorter. And yet, they just voted to save all those people...


Star Detective: Sebastian

Last edited by Doctor Nanjo on Wed Sep 04, 2019 8:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Benjamin stood still as Belphegor read the results. He looked oddly shaken up, but still managed to present himself to the class. "I have no reason to lie to you anymore. So whatever consolation it is, I was telling the truth. ... I'll do my best."

He looked away from the rest of them. "I don't know what else to say. An apology seems almost insulting so all I'll say is... thank you."
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"Thank you for your service, Benjamin. I can only hope this goes well," Seb said quietly. He'd become more animated again, but looked rather out of it, knowing that it was now guaranteed he'd die before reaching 35. He was unsure how to deal with the issues they'd encountered at the best of times; this one was especially taxing.

"Will you be passing through Rattlewater? Do you think you'd be able to deliver messages for us?" he then asked. "At this point I doubt something as naïve as 'fetch help' will do any good, but at the very least people need to know what happened here, and who's still okay for the time being. Not to mention there's Matt's message to Pat, and Claudia... Time is of the essence though, of course."
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"What?!" Daniel suddenly stands up from the sofa and slams his hand on the podium, evidently fuming and gritting his teeth. "You agreed with him? Have you maggots even listened to anything he said?! He's a sick fuck and he's probably bullshitting to boot! You got this far only to get played like this?!"
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Benjamin simply stood there as Daniel berated him, not knowing what to say. He knew no words could possibly appease the man, so he stayed silent.

KamiPanda wrote:
"Thank you for your service, Benjamin. I can only hope this goes well," Seb said quietly. He'd become more animated again, but looked rather out of it, knowing that it was now guaranteed he'd die before reaching 35. He was unsure how to deal with the issues they'd encountered at the best of times; this one was especially taxing.

"Will you be passing through Rattlewater? Do you think you'd be able to deliver messages for us?" he then asked. "At this point I doubt something as naïve as 'fetch help' will do any good, but at the very least people need to know what happened here, and who's still okay for the time being. Not to mention there's Matt's message to Pat, and Claudia... Time is of the essence though, of course."

"I'll be sure to let people know what's going on." Benjamin promised. "I'll tell the police, the media. I can do that much, but I won't be able to stick around long enough to see how they act. But whether or not I'm successful in my mission, I'll return if I'm alive. For you guys, and to deliver Matt's letter and Claudia."

He then smirked a little, despite the grim situation. "I could leave Claudia at your house too, for when you come back. I'll take her if you insist but honestly, I think you should hold onto her. Somehow I feel that you'll make it out of this alive--maybe that hunk of junk will give you the extra push you need."
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"...What choice do we have?!" Ivan snapped at Daniel. "This expedition...it has changed us! It has changed me! And so I will lay my life on the line for someone else..! Protecting Rattlewater...that's something that Benjamin will have to do!"

Cracking his baton against the wall, he glared at Daniel.

"Throughout this trip...tribunal after tribunal...it is evident that you have lost the fire that I have seen in you. What a shame."
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“Benjamin,” Brandy began. “I ain’t gonna lie, I borderline dislike you for reasons that don’t make sense to anyone but me. That said, I did jus’ trade away three-quarters o’ my life for you so... don’t screw it up. I ain’t got a choice but to believe in you now. Go get ‘em tiger.”

Brandy sighed with a weary smile. “Charlie’s gonna kill me when I get up there...”
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"I dearly hope that you're successful in your mission, Benjamin. I... I don't want to die young. Same with everyone else here, I'm sure. But to save millions of lives?" Oliver smirked a bit, despite his racing mind. "That's heroic, in my eyes. Besides, we'll still be able to live our lives. Just, ah, not as long, unfortunately. But a short life is better than no life, or letting millions die. That's how I see it."

He sighed and stretched out his back a bit. "While I cannot agree with all of your methods, Benjamin, it's up to you now. Whatever you do, I hope you give those cultist dastards hell and stop them once and for all."

Last edited by Collin1002 on Thu Sep 05, 2019 12:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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CaptainPancakes wrote:
"...What choice do we have?!" Ivan snapped at Daniel. "This expedition...it has changed us! It has changed me! And so I will lay my life on the line for someone else..! Protecting Rattlewater...that's something that Benjamin will have to do!"

Cracking his baton against the wall, he glared at Daniel.

"Throughout this trip...tribunal after tribunal...it is evident that you have lost the fire that I have seen in you. What a shame."


Daniel seems pretty shaken by the accusation. He stays motionless at his podium, looking like he wanted to say something but couldn't, then glances to the ground.

"Good luck." Doesn't appear like he has anything else to say.
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"I can't say I really knew you, Ben, but..." Haley shook her head. "No. You have your own enemies to fight, and the fact that you're willing to face them head-on, even at the risks, is commendable. So may you find victory in your fight."

She paused, and shook her head, chuckling. "I don't know what else to say. I just willingly sacrificed a large portion of what could have been on the off chance that this works. So... I guess good luck? Just do what you can; I know you'll do that much, at least."
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Benjamin seemed oddly introspective as he heard everyone's words of encouragement. Once again, he didn't know what to say. Instead, he got lost in his own thoughts.

"It's funny. I've always known I wasn't normal. A normal person wouldn't be able to do to that woman what I did. I thought it would be so easy to do it again."

Spoiler: ...
A red light shines on the wall, indicating that the challenge needs to be completed. Under the light reads a message etched in stone, “Drink thirty glasses of this liquor.” A timer counts down under it, showing how much time they have left.

"Wait." Benjamin stopped Klifford and Matt. "I have something to confess to both of you."

"More secrets?" Klifford asked.

"Almost two years ago, I saved your families' lives. Your daughter, Matt. And your wife and daughter, Klifford."

"Brat, what are you going on about?"

"It was a mission I was on. I'm afraid I can't really say more than that."

Why am I telling them this?

Matt chuckled and slapped Benjamin on the back. "You know, brat? You're a weird fucker but you're alright."

"This is wonderful news!" Klifford said. "But why are you telling us this now?"

"I'm not sure."

"Heh. Well I'll be sure to tell my wife and daughter about their British guardian angel."

"That one didn't even make sense, moron."

Benjamin sighed. "Forget it. Let's just get on the lift, guys."


"There was no reason for me to say that. I didn't get why I did at the time, but I do now." He trailed off strangely. Almost like he knew it was pointless to keep speaking. What could he say? 'I feel bad'? Would that even matter?

"I'll tell the surface about all of you." He repeated. "But like I said, I can't stay long. If any of you want to write a letter, or have me deliver a message, I can drop off a note at the post office. I won't read them." He added pointlessly. "But that's about the extent of what I can do. At least until I finish my mission."
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Belphegor runs his hand along the wall, suddenly a shining brilliant pathway yawns from the rocky wall. The light is so beautiful and white, but it hurts their eyes after so long.

If before was a glimpse of hell, this is a glimpse of heaven.

Spoiler: Ascension
Benjamin hobbles toward the light. Everyone else is frozen still, in awe of the event they're witnessing, and completely in fear of what Belphegor would do if one of them were to make a dash for it.

It's not sad or disgusting or any of the other words that could describe the last executions, but it does have the same sense of total finality, like this is Benjamin's last few moments on earth.

He looks frail, of course. Certainly it will be a long time before he can walk again, if he can really recover.

His body begins to get immersed in the light, looking smaller and darker and less human with each hop further, with one hand leaning against the wall.

He turns his head back towards them, "It's gonna be you, Seb."

Then, gradually, his forms warps and shrivels and vanishes.

They feel a dark timbre rattle their souls as Belphegor closes the door to the exit.

Benjamin Bledsoe has survived. He lives to see the world again.


"Well, that's it then," Belphegor says. "Although the challenges were failed, I have decided to open the way forward regardless."

"This marks the end of the fourth tribunal. My condolences on your loss."

Belphegor flops over onto the ground, his mask skittering away from him, his body turning to black sand.

After he falls, he doesn't move again.

It's as if the spell has ended. Everyone feels their memories of the surface and all it holds for them flood their minds.

It's so close and yet...

The Crooked Waltz: End
6 Souls Remain
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"... Is he dead, or did he just do a disappearing act?" Haley shuddered. "I don't think I really wanna know the answer to that? I just... kinda do and don't want to know. A-Anyway, let's get out of here. This place gives me the creeps now..."
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Seb had, ultimately, decided to keep Claudia with him after all. He hadn't really expected such words of encouragement from Benjamin, and they seemed to have given him newfound strength. Admittedly he didn't fully understand Benjamin's last words before he'd left, but he assumed they were just an extension of what he'd been saying before.

"No choice now. We've just got to keep going. I already promised Shizune I would, regardless of what happened." Despite everything he wore a slight smile as he said this. "Losing so much of our lives is terrible, but... this feels like the first time in this entire game we've really been able to make a choice for ourselves instead of being led around, pieces on a board of Belphegor's design. I find it to be a very liberating feeling.

"To be honest, this is the first time I've felt like I could really make a choice for myself in over a year. I've always felt like things were entirely out of my control, that I had no choice but to help Bennett, which alleviated me of all responsibility. But maybe there's more power in individual choices than I'd realised. Even if Benjamin ends up failing, I think this may still have been the right choice for me."
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Daniel immediately leaves the tribunal. He doesn't seem too happy, and neither does he bring the sofa and chair back.
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"We ain't got no choice but to push on forward now," Brandy said wistfully. "As hard of a choice as that was, it was the right thing to do in the end. We jus' lost a huge fraction of our lives, so let's make sure we don't spend the remainder full o' regret. We came here to do a job, so we best see it through to the end..."

She held the revolver in front of her, staring at it longingly. That day felt like eons ago. It hurt her to face how easy it was to lose things. For a treasure hunter, the fact that she could not keep the things she treasured the most in her life wounded her, like a lion attacking a gazelle. Bloody, violent, and hard to watch. Still, she wore a smile. A pained one, yes, but a smile nonetheless.

"I'll be there soon, Charlie. It's almost over."

Brandy turned from the others and left the tribunal area. It was possible to catch a glimpse of the tears rolling down her face as she hurried out of there.
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"I concur. We have no choice to keep going," Oliver remarked with a nod. His eyes looked just as firey as the color of his crimson red hair as he spoke -- he appeared truly determined. "If we give up at any point in time, everyone who unfairly died... they would have died for nothing."

"Even if we sacrificed most of our remaining lifespan, we still cannot give up on living. We just have to rely on Benjamin to pull through. And even if he fails... well, at least we still tried. I know that we made the right decision -- the decision to attempt to save millions by making a sacrifice of our own. I don't think many others can say the same of themselves." Oliver held a hand to his chest, letting out a small breath. "We'll be free of this torment eventually. Of that, I have little doubt."

After his little spiel, Oliver performed a small curtsy, turned around, and then left the tribunal room as well, wandering off elsewhere to try and relax.
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Spoiler: ???
Two people relaxed in a cozy library.

One of them had engineered the deaths of several of their friends. Another was lost, desperate, and afraid. But deep down, the two were very similar.

“Let me tell you a story…” one of them mumbled breathlessly.

The other sighed and clutched their forehead. They hid at the foot of a bookshelf, cloaked in shadows.

As you wish. I'll listen to your story. Again.”

“Don’t fucking interrupt me! It’s not even my story. My mother told it to me…You love your mommy, don’t you?”



“Now listen…There once was a flowery grove deep within the forest, where the nutmeg-brown bunnies lived. It was a peaceful place…Every day they feasted on grass and dandelions and frolicked in the fields, playing delightful games with the little ones.

“But one day, a single white rabbit was born among the litter. It had beautiful fur, white as snow, and eyes like rubies…And it loved playing like everyone else…”



The other figure responded. “…But it didn’t fit in. Is that it?”

“…The other rabbits thought it was a monster. They drove it out with their sharp claws. After a grueling chase it tumbled into the briar patch. Its legs shattered. Its white coat was streaked in red. It lay helpless…waiting to die.”

Sharp laughter rang out.

You’re real messed up. You know that, right?

“No, I wouldn’t say so…Asshole,” They leaned back in their chair, arms trailing toward the floor, staring at the ceiling. “Anyway, there’s a bit more.”

“So, the wounded rabbit knew it wasn’t long for the world…It eventually found a small tunnel in the briar patch and tumbled inside. It was underground now, and what it found there was beautiful. A spring of rainbows, casting glorious light across the cavern…And it was in that spring’s waters that the rabbit died.

“But that’s not the end…Within the year, a tree grew from the ground above that spring. It’s roots snaked across the patch, choking out the briars. Colorful leaves and ivory apples sprouted from its boughs, and flowers blossomed in its shadow. That briar patch became a new home for the brown rabbits…They never even knew it sprouted from the corpse of the creature they’d driven away…”

Wow…sounds like your mother was even worse than you,” the other replied, quietly stepping away. “And I suppose you think you’re the white rabbit, huh?

“Well…yes. I believe so. People make a point to remind me that I’m not like them…That’s why they call me schizophrenic. It’s just a label assholes use to justify treating me like shit…And just like the rabbit, I’ll probably die alone…and those vultures will pounce on my corpse and make money off my guts…I should have been dead a long time ago, really.”

Sounds to me like you’re thinking about that story the wrong way.

“Huh…?”

You’re right. You’re doomed. But you’ve left your mark behind, haven’t you? And looking back, do you regret anything?

“…No, I suppose not.”

The rabbit left behind a world far more beautiful than there was before. Even those that rejected it were touched by its life. And as long as you can look back and believe you’ve done the same, what’s it matter? Personally, I think this whole thing was a little beautiful…wasn’t it?

It was at this point that the soft sound of sobbing could be heard from one part of the room.

The other figure walked out of the shadow of the bookshelf, but their face remained unseen. “Granted, maybe you’re just a monster. I don’t know. I don’t really care. All I know is that I've done all I can for you.

As they reached the door, a voice gasped behind them. “I’ve been down here so long. Too long…I miss them. I miss my family…everyone…”

The other nodded. “Feels shitty, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, though.

They left the dismal room behind.

I think you’ll be getting some new friends soon enough.

……



Everyone decides to take some time catching sleep since it was very late when the challenge happened. They wake the next day and make their way to the castle.

When they enter, they notice that the large throne in the front of the castle has moved, and below it, a staircase heads down to a secret tunnel lined with black stones and lit with old-style torches. They make it to the end and there's a single wooden door there with the words "Play Room" sprawled on it in black paint.

Spoiler: Play Room
A plain looking room with plain looking white walls covered in scratches and scuff marks. On the floor is a soft brown carpet. In the middle of the room is six or so chairs around a card table. On the card table is a single written note which says "sort". Lining the walls are a series of empty wooden boxes with hinges. At the front of the room is a toybox.


Spoiler: Wooden Boxes
Each wooden box has one word burned into the top of them and a description written on a note the inside lid. The words are as follows:

DELUSION - To hold warped beliefs
EGO - To avoid shame
FIXATION - To only see one objective
GREED - To have selfish desire
IMPASSION - To lack emotion
OBSTINACY - To be inflexible
RUMINATION - To get lost in thought
SHAME - To hate oneself
SPECULATION - To risk for gain
TEMERITY - To be foolishly bold


Spoiler: Toy Box
Inside the chest at the front of the room is an assortment of toys? Well actually, some of them are rather strange. There's a WRENCH, a MUSIC BOX, a DEAD RAT, a LOLLIPOP, a NOVEL, a TROWEL, a KEY, a TOY GUN, a GREEN CAP, and a PINE BOARD.


Chapter 5: Not Alone
Beginning
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"Sort..." Brandy muttered. Evidently, she had given herself a bit of a makeover, but that's not important right now. She gravitated toward the toy box and became especially fixated on the items inside. She looked around again before coming to a realization.

"Ten items, ten boxes... n' ten people outta the game," she said.
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