The GameCola staff must band together if they want to survive Zero-Two’s most dangerous game.
(Inspired by the hit DS visual novel 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors.)
As Michael, Daniel, and Matt rushed into the room, the first thing that caught their attention was an open door on the other side of the room with people spilling out of it: Nikola, Nathaniel, and Christian. They all gathered in the center of the large room, telling each other about their adventures, talking over each other in excitement. After a few minutes, the cacophony died down and the guys looked around the large room.
“So…what now?” Nathaniel asked.
“I guess we should look for a way out, or whatever those notes always say…” Daniel replied. They all began to walk forward, then stopped as a loud noise from above their heads caught their attention.
“What was that?” Christian asked, looking up at the ceiling.
Paul, Jeff, Diana, and Jeddy burst through the double doors into a room full of mirrors. They stopped, wheeling around and taking it in. The mirrors were dark and shadowy, all bearing various phrases in a red, sticky-looking liquid.
“Seek a way out,” Diana whispered, clutching the iPad tighter.
“Escape,” Jeff read. They all exchanged nervous glances, beginning to walk forward quickly. Suddenly, their knees hit a wide mirrored platform and they all tripped, crashing onto the floor. Muffled groans came from the fallen heroes and Diana hurriedly checked to make sure the iPad hadn’t shattered. She had a history with that.
“Hey, look down there!” Jeddy said, directing everyone’s attention to the dangerous platform again. They all looked at the top, a two-way mirror into the room below. Six faces were turned up toward them.
“It’s the guys!” Paul exclaimed, waving down at them. They didn’t respond.
“Paul,” Diana said, patting his back. “I don’t think they can see us.”
“At least we know they’re okay,” Jeff said, getting to his feet. “We should keep going.” He moved farther down the room. He was getting fed up with the leadership (or lack thereof) present in the group. Diana followed him.
Paul was devastated to see his staff separated like this. They were like a family and now they were as far apart as they were when they were all over the country. Was he really being a great leader right now?
Jeddy waited by him. “We have to keep going,” he told Paul. “It’ll be okay.”
After hearing no more noise from above them, the group of six continued forward. They arrived at the opposite end of the room where three doors waited for them. The doors all bore a large, red number two and the familiar device next to them.
“So, we have to pair up?” Matt said, looking speculatively at the doors. They all exchanged looks.
“How do we pick?” Nikola phrased the unspoken question lingering in the air.
“There’s really only one way…” Michael said, glancing at the others.
After one very intense rock-paper-scissors tournament, Christian won the right to pick his partner first. He looked over everyone, finally pointing at Matt. “Let’s take this one,” he said, moving to stand in front of the left door.
Round two began and ended with a victory for Michael. He selected Daniel as his partner and they took the center door, while Nikola and Nathaniel crossed to the right one.
“Well, I guess we should go…” Nathaniel said uncertainly, looking at the rest of the staff. They glanced at the doors not without some trepidation. “See you on the other side.”
They all scanned their bracelets and the doors creaked open. After one final nervous look at each other, they entered and turned as the doors closed behind them, sealing them further inside.
Jeff and Diana waited for Paul and Jeddy in front of two metal doors, both emblazoned with a large, red two, both with devices next to them.
“We’re splitting up,” Jeff said authoritatively.
“Well, how should we—” Jeddy began, but Jeff continued, talking over him.
“You and Paul will go through that door. Diana and I will go through this one. It’s time someone starts making some concrete decisions! We can’t let Zero-Two control the whole game! We have to find him before he finds us!”
Everyone just looked at him for a second. “Jeff…” Diana said quietly. “We can’t fight now.”
“I just want to get out of here! And that’s not going to happen if we just sit around solving stupid puzzles and worrying about our friends!” Jeff moved to the door on the right and scanned his bracelet. The others watched with wide eyes as the door opened and he entered, clearly not caring who was coming behind him.
“Wait! You can’t go by yourself!” Paul yelled after him as the countdown began.
10… 9… 8… 7…
Diana glanced over at the other two. “Well, I’m not going to be a Sigma, waiting til the last second,” she quipped, smiling. “See you later.” She ran after Jeff, scanning her bracelet and following him.
Jeddy and Paul looked at each other. Now they were even more split up than before. They both scanned their bracelets on the left device and entered the next room.
The Left Room
Matt and Christian entered a small metal chamber. It had doors on three walls and a blue, holographic-looking screen on the fourth wall.
“It looks like an elevator,” Christian observed.
“What do we do?” Matt asked.
The words had barely left his mouth when the door opposite the one they had entered opened and Paul and Jeddy appeared.
“Guys!” Paul exclaimed, surprised. “You’re okay!”
They nodded, clearly relieved to see the other two.
“So what are we doing here?” Jeddy asked, looking around.
The screen suddenly flashed blue. Attention, players…
The Center Room
Michael and Daniel entered the metal room, looking around.
“You know what this looks like?” Michael mused, partially to himself.
“What?” Daniel replied.
“The elevators from Virtue’s Last Reward. Just a little bit.” Michael looked up. “Minus the hatch in the ceiling.”
“So what happens now?” Daniel asked.
The screen suddenly flashed blue. Attention, players…
The Right Room
Nikola and Nathaniel stepped into the small metal room, the door sliding shut behind them. “What is this place?” Nikola asked, thinking to himself that it looked vaguely familiar.
“I don’t know,” Nathaniel replied irritably. The whole situation was starting to get to him and he was preoccupied with thoughts of how much better this would have gone if he was a leader of one of the groups. He’d been thinking about it for a while.
Nikola turned to look at the door they’d entered from, then slowly made a 360 of the room, trying to figure out how to escape. He turned around quickly as the door opposite of the one from which he and Nathaniel had entered slid open.
“Nikola? Nathaniel?” Diana and Jeff walked into the room, looking around.
“Hey guys!” Nikola greeted them. Nathaniel gave them a half-hearted wave, still wrapped up in his own thoughts. Jeff seemed to sense what he was thinking about and nodded to him, indicating that they would talk later.
“What is this place?” Diana asked, turning around like Nikola had just a moment before. “And, more importantly, how do we get out?” She and Nikola began to throw out possible theories with the help of the chatroom, unaware that the other two occupants weren’t listening.
Nathaniel and Jeff met near the blue holographic screen. “How’s it been for you?” Jeff said in a hushed tone, checking to make sure that Diana and Nikola were still occupied.
“Not good, you?”
“Same.” Jeff sighed. “What do you think the problem is?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Nathaniel replied. “Lack of leadership. If we’d been leaders when we all went through the first doors…”
“This wouldn’t be happening,” Jeff finished for him. “So what do we do?”
“I think it’s pretty clear what we need to do,” Nathaniel said matter-of-factly. “We need to stage some kind of coup. We need to take the power and lead this group out of here.”
“We’ll be heroes,” Jeff murmured.
“So now we just need to devise a clever plan,” Nathaniel said, smirking. “Something which I happen to excel at.” He rested his hand against the screen, but suddenly it flashed bright blue. Nikola and Diana rushed toward it, while Jeff and Nathaniel moved to the back, continuing to discuss possible plans. Attention players…
Your final challenge awaits you in the next room. Success or failure depends on you. Prepare yourselves and when you feel ready, step through the door behind you. But keep in mind the time…
The words flickered out, replaced by a timer. 1:01:32. They had one hour left.