“Alice and her team are going through the hospital,”
reported Daimyon after seeing the trio off and promising to see them at the top. It was something he wanted to, no, needed
to believe if it was going to ever come true, because the odds were long. His team was still hanging around Noel's room, trying to decide the best way forward. Though there were four of them, they had little in the way of combat prowess. Denis was their sole trained Infinite; he looked ice cool as he stood leaning against the wall, his hands in his pockets. Lucy was much the opposite: having acquired not one, but two pistols from the weapon stash, she was frantically waving them around, getting a good feel for them. The complete lack of firearm experience did nothing to still her spirits—she was the Infinite Prodigy, after all. She was going to get the hang of it in no time!
Daimyon gave both of them an encouraging smile—the best he could muster anyway—before turning to Cyrus. The politician was pacing up and down the hallway, intently tapping away at his e-handbook. “What's the plan?”“The resort. The stairwell there leads straight up to the fourth floor. And should we be forced to fight, there are many spacious areas we can utilise. Lead the robots in, out-maneuver them, move on.”
Cyrus looked up. The poet caught a glimpse of desperation in his eyes. “It's our best shot. But there will be a lot of running.”“Better to be exhausted than dead,”
Daimyon said, letting out an anxious sigh. He and Cyrus could win any battle of wits and words together—a battle of robots and rifles, though, that was another story. “‘Laugh at the runner all ye want, bold ones. But pray he'll be as gracious in telling your story as the Spartan was.’”
Cyrus gave the little ditty a chuckle, giving the poet a pat on the shoulder before turning to the rest of the team. “Alright, everyone, here's the plan. We take the resort route, sticking to the staircase whenever possible. If we get ambushed or run into too many Carnage Sisters to handle, we will all rush into the nearest building and lose them there. Splitting up might be necessary, but we should always try to be aware of each other's position. And, most importantly,”
he fixed his glasses in place, “no one gets left behind.”
He pulled out his sidearm, a small calibre pistol—our kind tends to have many enemies
, he had told Daimyon—and nodded towards the resort entrance. “Let's go!”
Lucy and Denis wordlessly followed after the two. On his way out, Denis picked up a submachine gun and a crowbar he had left by the entrance to the door. They could hear the sound of the others battling their way up the patient’s quarters staircase. That was fine for them though, as Shona had proven to be more than a match for the carnage sisters in the past. They entered the resort without issue.”Might want to try one gun first.”
Denis was looking at Lucy, who was running after everyone with both guns drawn, pointed straight into the air. ”I’ve watched a lot of action flicks, so I don’t think it’ll be that hard.”
The place was a mess. The mono stand had been demolished, and bits and pieces of carnage sisters littered the floor. Alice Parker had once resided here, and it showed.
But not all that laid low, stayed low.
Out from the ruined fountain sprawled several carnage sisters, brandishing all manner of swords and spears. There had to be at least seven, but they were getting up slow. Lucy leveled her pistols at them and started firing. She had immediately grasped how to fire a pistol, though her small arms weren’t up to the task of holding her guns straight. With so many of them though, accuracy was a non issue. Each bullet hit something. ”Push!”
Denis swung his crowbar down on an incoming sword before dragging it up the carnage sister’s arm into her head. Metal and plastic erupted like confetti, and the body fell limp.“Well done!”
shouted Daimyon, watching the robot explode from a safe enough distance, behind the free-firing Lucy. He shouted to rouse himself as much as he did to rouse Denis. The spy seemed to be handling himself fine, pummelling another Carnage Sister with his crowbar before it could get up. Daimyon, on the other hand, felt beyond useless. He was holding a long piece of uneven metal, scrounged from a fallen machine, but it was no use from afar unless he were to chuck it at something. Every time he willed himself to move up, to get closer and help Denis out, his body froze. He eyed the staircase, just a few metres from where he was standing—it was empty, but he could not see the upper half of it. Naturally, he imagined that there was a whole battalion of Carnage Sisters armed with long spears up there, just waiting for him to run into them. Still, he kept creeping forward towards it, trying to get a better angle.
Cyrus, meanwhile, stood firm, one eye closed, weapon aimed at a lumbering robot slowly approaching him. He aimed at a small, bright red spot on its head, very carefully, until he was sure that the bullet would hit—then he fired, and the Sister collapsed in a flurry of sparks. The politician wiped his head of sweat. He had previously emptied half a clip into this same robot, only to have them all bounce off its metal shell. Hitting its weak spot seemed to be the only way to reliably take one down with his pistol. It might have been doable for a trained gunman, but for him, it was unsustainable. As he, too, scanned the staircase for options, he noticed three robotic figures rushing out of the Mono Shoppe next to it. Rushing right towards... “Daimyon! In the shop!”“Huh?”
The poet piped up, just in time to notice the trio of Carnage Sisters running towards him and Lucy. They both dodged away in opposite directions; Daimyon almost got impaled by the leftmost one. With the resort door closed, there was nowhere to run—there was only space to fight. “Perish, metal monster of terror! Perish!”
He swung the metal slab with all his might and brought it down on the closest robot. It staggered, whirring loudly, but did not fall.“How do you reload these things?!”
came a cry from Lucy, mashing the triggers of her two pistols, but they were both out.“You don't—not two at once!”
Cyrus shouted, running over from his own battle. “We need to move up or we'll never get to the fourth floor!”
His arms and legs shaking, Daimyon nevertheless managed to side-step the Carnage Sister's lunge and deliver another blow, which seemed to stun it. “What if they just come after us?”“High ground always helps! Move!”
There were no sisters barring their path to the second floor from that point on, and the Infinites reached it with ease. However, when Daimyon, the first one up, turned the corner to begin up the next set of stairs, he felt was greeted by the butt of a rifle to the nose, knocking him on his behind. “Ow! What in the heavens—”
Before he could get his bearings, Daimyon could hear someone hastily dragging something up the stairs. When he finally looked up, he spotted a crude, mostly-finished makeshift barrier of chairs and tables that had been erected, barring the pathway up. A chair wiggled as it was pulled into the last gap in the barricade, and it was then that Daimyon caught a glimpse of red hair as a figure disappeared further up. “Have fun with them varmints, ya hear?” “V-var-varmint—hey!”
The poet scrambled to his feet, almost bucking over with the same momentum. But his cry fell on deaf ears: whoever was that who so ruthlessly and stealthily assaulted him was gone, having disappeared behind a surprisingly well-constructed makeshift barricade. “What in the fresh hell is this?!”
shouted Cyrus as he made it up and onto the scene. Lucy and Denis, who made sure to thoroughly whack one last Carnage Sister who wanted to move up with them, followed closely behind him. The politician hurried up to the stack of chairs and tables and made a few tentative pushes against the structure. It moved, but not nearly enough—it would take some time to break it all down. Turning back to the team, he grabbed his glasses and held them in his fist, “I should've known Monokuma would make this route as fucking inconvenient as possible for us...”
The poet sulked some distance away, rubbing his hurting nose. “I...I don't think it was the bear. I saw one of us, just a flash. Red-haired fellow.” “What?!”
The idea that one of their fellow Infinites would go out their way
to put their lives in danger like that was more than enough for Cyrus to snap those poor, fragile glasses in half and toss them on the ground in anger. His survival instinct quickly overcame his fury, though, and soon he had a spare pair back on, ready to think his way out of this mess. By that time, Daimyon had also stepped up to the barricade, having discarded his metal weapon. “This is still the best way forward, so long as there are no Carnage Sisters to interrupt us. We have to remove this, quick.” “Right!”
They got to work, starting from the top, dislodging chair after chair and slowly wearing down the blockade. The floor was quiet aside from their grunts of exertion, which troubled the poet greatly. “Let's stay aware...I know how this goes. They'll attack when we don't pay attention.” “Well then why don't you help us keep an eye out?”
Lucy asked. “No, no, no—this is necessary. We have to,”
he put a table aside with Cyrus' help, “ugh, we have to be occupied. They'll never attack if we're all on our guard. That's how...that's how the trope goes...”
Denis was about to yank another chair loose when he took a step back ”Might want put back now!”
Lucy gave Denis a perplexed look, but then looked at the barrier. ”Oh, yea, guys! Get away from that!”
It started with just a few carnage sisters, but more quickly piled up on the other side of the barricade. They had been crawling behind the barrier quietly, but now that they had been discovered they went into overdrive. The carnage sisters knocked each other over, stepped on each other, but as their bodies filled in the voids there was more and more weight on the structure. Eventually they started to pour over the top of it, while the makeshift barrier groaned under their weight. Denis brought his crowbar down on one’s head, but he was just delaying the inevitable.
Daimyon stood dumbfounded at the sight, while Cyrus crushed his glasses in his hand. ”Did that little shit bring bring them this way?”
He put on a new pair of glasses. ”We need to find an other way up, we don’t have enough ammo for all of them!” ”Oh my goodness…”
Staggering back, the poet looked up at one of the many cameras. “I take it back! Tropes aren’t so bad!”
Humour aside, their situation had quickly taken a turn for the worse. The blockade was barely holding on—any moment the rain of Carnage Sisters was going to turn into a torrent upon them, and that was going to be the end of it. Daimyon looked to his team members for guidance, but they all seemed shaken by the sheer amount of enemies coming at them. Even Denis gritted his teeth, waving his crowbar threateningly at the unthinking mass as they were forced further and further back. Cyrus' thoughts were more ahead as he was frantically trying to weigh up their chances. Their only option was to head into one of the other towers. But which one? If he had more time, he could strategically analyse both and choose the one that was most suited to the team—but like this, his thoughts just seemed to run in circles. “T-that goes to the patient quarters, right? Let's just go!”
Daimyon blurted out, pointing to the gate closest to them. With them almost being pressed up against the restaurant wall, his fight-or-flight instinct was kicking in again. And he was most definitely not willing to fight this. “Come on, come on!”
He wasted no time in rushing for the gate, and the rest had no choice but to follow.
The carnage sisters gave chase. Denis periodically looked over his shoulder to fire at the occasional assault rifle toting one, but otherwise hurried along with everyone else. Though the carnage sisters seemed to give up their pursuit as soon as they got to the bridge leading to the other tower. ”No follow?” ”Maybe.”
Lucy said between pants. The floor was littered with carnage sister parts. Broken manikins coated in spilled hydraulic fluid. ”Maybe Parker’s here? Oh man, I really hope we don’t run into her!”
It felt a little claustrophobic, as the next stretch of their journey lead through all the patient’s rooms. An L shaped corridor filled with rooms previously inaccessible to the sisters. ”Cautious!”
Denis might come across as dumb because of his poor English, but he was
the infinite spy. He needed to be wary of things like ambushes.
Lucy crept forward. ”Yea, they stopped following us for a reason. We still want to move kinda quick though.”
The group had their guns out, backs to each other the entire time. If a door knob as much as squeaked, it would be getting a lead shower. But what the group noticed as they walked deeper into the patients quarters was the sound. Swords colliding against each other, and arcing electricity. Once they turned the corner, they could see it. “That's Shona!”
Daimyon exclaimed. “And...” “Holy crap, Justiciar is back! But how—”
Lucy added to the general surprise, just before Cyrus yanked both her and the poet back behind the corner.
The politician looked them dead in the eye. “Something is very wrong. Daimyon, you and I saw Shona die with our own eyes—but it was a long time ago. I wouldn't put it past Monokuma to mess with our memories. But Noel was executed today. Today! It can't be her in that armour. Which means...”
Daimyon could not hold his curiosity and peeked again carefully, standing beside Denis who kept a constant eye out for the scene. "You are a good swordsman, but I can’t let this fight carry on much longer. It’s only a matter of time before those robots envelope us both."
Shona leaned into her armored opponent. ”Perhaps that will be true justice for two sinners.” "Get off it, Noel!"
With a solid swing, Shona managed to force Justiciar away from herself, but the reprieve only lasted a moment before the vigilante and knight were blade locked again.
Their blade lock let loose a shockwave that scared the poet back behind the corner. “Shona says it's Noel...”
he said. “You're right. Even I...I haven't forgotten her yet. But still...”
Cyrus shook his head. “We know Shona is on our side. So Justiciar has to be—” “What if she isn't, though?”
Daimyon pushed back. “What if she has gone rogue, or was never our Shona to begin with? Where is Zachary and the others anyway?” “You're not seriously thinking...” “We won't know if we don't go find out!”
He nodded towards the fight that seemed to only increase in intensity with each blow. “Should move. More robot will come,”
advised Denis, keeping his assault rifle at the ready.
Cyrus was not having it. “Look, it doesn't matter which one of them is against us—either would slice us in half in seconds!” “It could be just a...misunderstanding! And what if it really is Noel behind the vigilante's mask? Stranger twists have happened to us in this madhouse.”
And with that, the poet made up his mind. He had not looked when Noel was executed—for all he knew, it could have all been a sham. Besides, they could not stay hiding in this corner forever: the resort was swarmed, and they had to face the warriors one way or the other to progress. And if he could somehow stop them, he would finally become useful. “Let me see to this.”
He stepped defiantly ahead, ignoring Cyrus' call for caution. The engrossed fighters did not notice him right away; he used the time to gather all his bravery and step into the fray. “Noel!”
he called out shouting. “Is that you?”
Justiciar and Shona both turned their heads towards the newly arrived. The vigilante changed targets. She hopped backwards and prepared to swing at the poet. Coming face to face with the menacing armoured vigilante immediately knocked all newfound bravery out of the poet, and he froze in place. Shona might have been able to finish the fight, but not without running the risk of bringing harm to Daimyon. She threw herself in front of the poet, ready to block.
But it was a trick, a feint.
Justiciar swept their blade across Shona’s shin. The armor prevented the blade from cutting her flesh, but it was still a blow that brought Shona to her knee. Before Justiciar could finish the job, Denis’s handgun rang out. The small caliber firearm wasn’t enough to punch through the vigilante’s helmet, but it got them to stagger backwards. They leaped backwards before Shona could return to her feet again. On Denis’ signal, the remaining three rushed out from behind the corner: the spy and Lucy kept their guns trained on Justiciar, while Cyrus hurried to help the knight, who courteously but firmly denied it. In lieu of that, he scowled at Daimyon, who indeed felt pretty terrible about his foolhardiness. He saw Noel’s strike on Shona from up close—it wasn’t pretty. ”Why does everyone act like they know me?” "I’m not sure."
Shona ‘s stance was a bit weaker than it was before. Getting nailed in the shin really hurt, and it didn’t help that her opponent was really strong. Even if nothing was broken, she’d be walking with a limp for a while. "According to them, this is not the first time we have appeared in this ‘killing game.’ Do you not believe them?"
Shona turned to Daimyon. "Tell her something most people don’t know about her. Like you did with me." “I...”
The request caught the poet off guard, though it should not have. And what was worst was that he had no clear answer. Sure, he had written plenty about the journalist, but how was he supposed to know what was common knowledge and what was a secret? For him, it was all new, every day. Maybe she would understand now that she did not remember anything, either, but he did not want to risk it. Muttering under his breath, he raised a hand to his neck to adjust his jacket collar—only to feel the strap of the camera that still hung in his neck. How could he have forgotten about it? “Yes! This,”
he took it off, “is your camera, Noel. You...wanted me to have it and develop its pictures. So there must be something on there, something that will make you remember...” “There's an arts and crafts store on the third floor of the resort. It probably has something to develop photos,”
Cyrus added. He understood, though he scarcely believed it, what the poet was trying to get at. What he understood even more
was the importance of a Justiciar that was on their side—whether it was Noel in there or not. ”So you just need to develop some pictures then?”
She hesitated, but not for long. Her sword was back up not long after. ”How convenient that I need to let you access the third floor. Do you think I’m that foolish?”
She prepared to lunge for Shona, but the knight didn’t meet her charge this time. She allowed Denis to reach past her and fire a round at Noel’s ribs. Her armor fully deflected the small arms fire, but it couldn’t stand up to gunfire forever. ”It seems justice comes late for you.”
she warned before darting up the stairs.
Shona limped forward, grunting with every step. "I am unsure if I will be able to hold her off again, much less fight the robots."
Lucy stuck her head under one of her armpits. ”It’s fine, just sheath your sword. I brought an extra pistol.”
She offered it. ”You know how to shoot a gun, right?”
The knight unbuckled her gauntlet and threw it aside. "I was a resistance fighter for a time."
She flicked the safety on and off with her thumb. "I’ve killed more men with a gun than a sword, if that’s what you’re asking."
Lucy blinked. ”L-let’s just go! Let’s see if we can develop those pictures somewhere.” “This certainly is not ideal,”
Cyrus commented as the group got moving. They did not manage to get Justiciar on their side, yet, and their best fighter Shona was injured too. “But it could be worse. Let’s just keep moving and see what happens. We’re almost there.”
The group wasted no time climbing the steps to the third floor. They were almost up when Daimyon, who had been lagging at the back with his head hung down, spoke. “I’m really sorry, Shona. I should’ve thought my, uh, entrance over much more. Truthfully, I don’t even know why I’m still so sure that Noel is the one behind that mask…”
The knight smiled despite the pain. "Fret not poet. She was most certainly Noel. She had her helm off earlier. And as I said, I would protect you all as long as I am able. This scratch is one I wear with pride." “Well! I can think of an idea for that, huh!”
Lucy chirped, straining in her support for the knight. She was not particularly strong, but she would be damned if she let anyone know she was struggling. “What I really truly don’t get is all this reviving business! Never heard of anything like this except in sci-fi books! First you, Shona, and now Noel...both with all your memories gone. What’s with that?” “Only the two girls too,”
Denis added. He had more than a few questions himself, but he knew better than to let them busy his mind too much. As they made it onto the third floor patient’s quarters proper, he stepped up to the front of the team, weapon aimed.
A burst of gunshots drew Denis' attention to the left right as the Infinite Gunslinger came barreling down the hallway in what was clearly a hurry to escape his metallic pursuers. There wasn't enough time for either Infinite to register the other, resulting in a crash. Denis would stumble back into the wall of the staircase while George's balance was nearly foundered by the collision, yet he somehow managed to hold on without losing all of his momentum. He didn't dare stop, and continued running.
"Well, shoot, partner!" he yelled back towards the others as he righted himself mid-sprint. "Ya'll mind taking this dance for me? Much obliged!" one could imagine he'd have tipped his hat if he had one.
“Oof!” Taken unaware, Denis crashed into the wall with a thud. He had no time to say anything else, or to take his time dusting himself off: for the 'dance' in question came in the form of numerous sisters coming from the very same corner as George just did moments later, giving the rest little time to think. Denis took potshots at the first few that popped their heads over the corner but as those heads multiplied, he could only grit his teeth in frustration.
“You! Get back here, you son of a bitch!” Cyrus shouted after the runaway gunslinger. He wanted to run after him too, both for safety purposes and to finally get him to answer for his being a colossal dick back at the resort, but he stayed himself. With an almost unarmed poet, a wounded knight, and a struggling prodigy, the group could never hope to be as nimble as one man. “It’s fine,” he waved at the rest of the group, putting his glasses back on, “we can’t blow it now. The fourth floor is right there—let’s go!”
As the politician beckoned the team to keep heading up the patient’s quarters stairs, Daimyon could only look into the long hallway where George had just turned out of view. “That way is the resort…” he noted. “With the arts store! The pictures…”
“Forget about those damn pictures! Justiciar...Noel is gone. And we need to get out of here!” urged Cyrus.
The carnage sisters were getting close. The poet had to admit his friend was right—they were in no condition for sidequests. But something, some kind of urge still drew him there. Finality sank in his stomach; he believed they would never return to this place. And he did not want to leave business unfinished. “Cyrus! Please take everyone upstairs. I will...if I go now, I can catch up to our red-haired friend. We’ll join you there!”
Cyrus was going to say more, but the sisters were already upon them. All he did was swear before opening fire. Denis also fired, while Lucy and Shona hurried up the stairs. Cyrus and Denis continued to fire as their group retreated, but Daimyon went on by himself.
As Daimyon walked into the resort, the glass surrounding the plant display exploded, covering the floor in glass. It seemed George had fired a few rounds at the poet while making his retreat. Perhaps he had simply mistaken him for a carnage sister? Whatever the case was, the explosion made Daimyon duck behind a wall for a few seconds, a momentary respite he could use to consider his path forward.
The shops were in sight, and it sounded like the sisters had given up on chasing his companions and were ready to come after him. Daimyon could hear them chatter as they drew closer. They had no doubt made it into the long hallway of the patient’s quarters, he thought, which meant that he could not go back that way anymore. The resort stairs were still open, and so very close, but he knew that could change any moment. “And the brave poet marched on, soldierly, ‘twas the time for the orderly to seek adventure, no pressure, don’t fall for the pressure, don’t fall, don’t fall…”
he sang low in a rhythm that resembled an army march, willing himself to move at that pace too. Soon he was at the arts and crafts store.
Wandering around the expansive store, it took him a minute to find the proper equipment. He had feared that he would have to develop the film the traditional way (which he would not have managed, especially under such time pressure), but it was not the case. Instead, he was faced with a large printer, and a slot to plug the camera's memory card into. The rumbling of Carnage Sisters drew ever closer as the poet fumbled with the camera, eventually managing to eject its memory and give it to the printer. The machine whirred to life and displayed a loading screen. He would have to stay until it was all done. Sweating bullets, he turned his eyes from the printer to the stairwell and back. As soon as he got the pictures, he would bolt up the stairs. But the loading bar was taking its sweet time progressing…
It was inevitable that more sisters would show up. But it was not disorganized masses this time, but a single entity. The weight of her footsteps shook the shop with every step. Feeling it, Daimyon quickly hid behind the counter, strangling his curiosity that wanted to see what sort of giant was nearing. He didn’t even have to look to see who it was, their voice gave it away. ”Hey! I know one of you fuckers are in in here!”
The sound of Geina’s miniguns winding up filled the air. ”Whatever! Not like I need to see you in order to put your punk ass down!”
The files were still uploading, but Geina’s weapons were already firing, sweeping across the shop in search for a target. A Monokuma plush exploded, some magazines were blown off of the shelves, the tiles jumped and danced across the floor—and it took all of Daimyon’s mental fortitude not to scream in terror. Seeing bullets pepper a shelf at the level where he was crouching, he dropped down prone in panic. With chaos and destruction filling his senses and the deafening, ever-louder sound of the miniguns blinding him, he braced for death. He murmured an elegy he had written a long time ago that he always wanted to be his last words, as the guns ra-ta-tated right above him.
Then they ra-ta-tated some more, a little quieter, and the poet was surprised to still hear them. Though he could not look up, he felt that the Sister’s guns have moved along, riddling the other half of the surprisingly long arts & crafts store. He cautiously crouched up, still managing to step on the remains of a plastic Monokuma doll, a mistake that went unheard in the thundering fire. He threw a glance at the photo machine close to him: some fluid was leaking out of its bullet holes. At the same time, he spotted a stack of papers on its still-intact tray—the photos! His eyes darting around the place as he could barely think from the panic, he saw that the Carnage Sister was almost done with the entire store. Maybe if he waited quietly, it would just leave—he hoped, in vain, as the moment it had finished, it turned its weapons around for a second round. Just in case.
Getting to the photos just like that was out of the question, and Daimyon thought it terrifyingly unlikely to survive another round behind the thin counter. He had to move. He had to move! But where, and how? Ideas jumped in and out of his head as he tried to muster the only thing he had left going for him: his creativity. Running for it was too risky, but he had to eventually—maybe a distraction? But what? Something to catch its attention, something heavy, something loud, something…
He grabbed the camera that was lying beside him. It was expensive, it was valuable—it was his ticket to life. Without a second thought, he tossed it as far to the other side as he could. It hit the floor with a loud crash, its glass lenses shattering on impact.
The miniguns stopped. “Wha—there you are, punk!”
Geina shouted, turning its hulking weapons towards the broken camera. That was his chance! “Oh hey, that’s not—!”
Daimyon bolted out from the counter. He ran like he had never run before, feeling death on his tail. “You tryna trick me, fucker?! Not in a million years!”
He rushed through the store lengthwise, grabbing the stack of photos mid-run, as Geina was quickly turning its guns back around, firing throughout for good measure. He was almost there, almost, just a few more steps until he could round the corner and—
A terrible pain seared through his right shoulder, just as he made it out of the store and gotten behind it. Gasping, he leaned against the back wall, first shoving the stack of photos into one of his jacket pockets, then holding his hurting shoulder. It hurt too much for him to scream about it; instead, involuntary tears ran down his face. As he saw the blood come oozing out of the wound, the tears became voluntary. He was feeling terribly cold and numb all of a sudden, but something, adrenaline if nothing else, kept his mind going enough to know that he himself had to keep going. He heard Geina walk with its heavy steps towards him, cursing all the while. He took off in the other direction, running through the narrow pathway until he could round the corner again. From there, he saw his escape: the hospital entrance. He could not remember exactly what was there, but it was his best shot at treating his gunshot wound. But the only way to it was another mad dash out in the open. He had no idea where Geina was exactly. Leaning against the wall once more, shaking and crying, he tried to will himself to run. He peeked around the corner to see that the robot had disappeared from sight. That was all it took. In the next instant, he was running, running like all the demons of hell were onto him, running straight into the hospital.
He did not stop once he was in the other tower. Though Geina’s footsteps had quietened and the hospital appeared to be empty, he kept running. Stumbling into the lab, he could hear the sound of something breaking behind him. But he didn’t turn around to see what it was. He kept pressing forward.
What greeted Daimyon was most unfortunate. Everywhere he looked, he only saw scientific instruments and vials with unpronounceable names written on them. Recognising the few most basic ones, he soon realised that this floor of the hospital was dedicated to researching viruses, and had little to do with mending shoulders. He was unlikely to find a single scrap of gause anywhere. Worst still was that Alice Parker was here. All of the carnage sisters were converging in this area to hunt her down, and Daimyon was but a lamb before the lion’s might. Fortunately it seemed like someone destroyed all the security cameras, so he just had to avoid being spotted.
It was even louder in here than the print shop. Every few seconds the sound of a metal chassis breaking could be heard, and every time it was heard Daimyon would know Parker still lived. He dreaded accidentally stumbling into the omnicidal Parker’s sight, but still more pressing issues occupied his mind. His hand was hardly an effective gause, and he was losing a lot of blood. The world around him was starting to spin; the cacophony that assaulted his ears made the sensation downright hellish. He held onto a table—releasing his wound—and gasped hard, hanging onto consciousness with all his might.
That was when it hit him: a burst of clarity. The bathrooms! They were right by the door up, and there was probably a first aid kit inside. Most establishments had medical kits in the bathroom, anyway. It was his very last shot—and if he was wrong, well, at least it was a private place to die.
It was getting difficult to think, now. Daimyon knew he had gone past the bathrooms on his way to the lab, but which way was that? There was so much noise, so much destruction around him... one wrong step would have ended with him in the fray, defenceless.
He hobbled out of the lab back the way he came: the only thing he was still certain of. He tried to be cautious, to look both ways before crossing, but most of his energy was spent just to keep him on his feet and moving. He saw the bathrooms ahead and he walked straight towards them, having neither the time nor the presence of mind to be stealthy. He hoped against hope that Parker was a force powerful enough to keep all the Sisters occupied.
The poet practically fell through the bathroom door: still alive, but barely, only to find himself in what might’ve been a worse situation.
Daimyon was not the only person who had sought refuge in the bathroom. George, the red-haired gunslinger, had also done so in order to catch his breath and reload. As ammo was limited, Henry had to focus to ensure each shot would put a carnage sister down for good, and this was relatively exhausting to do while also constantly sprinting and lifting objects to impede the progress of other Infinites.
So, not long after Daimyon made it to the bathroom, he now had a rather unpleasant cowboy glaring at him. “Yer time’s up, pal,” he declared. “Consider it a mercy. What with all the sisters roamin’ about, I figure ya ain’t got too long anyhow.” pulling the automatic assault rifle up, he aimed at Daimyon and pulled the trigger.
But Daimyon would not be the target of a single bullet.
He was shoved out of the way, just in time for Justiciar to take the bullet in her steel helmet. It left a dent right under her right eye, but she pressed forth. Daimyon crashed into the wall with his hurt shoulder, falling on the cold tiles amid screams of pain. The cowboy took a few steps backwards, but Justiciar continued to charge towards him. Her torso had taken so many hits it finally cracked, spraying some of her blood out of the cracks. But that wasn’t enough to stop the infinite reporter. Finally she was close enough to stab George, but George had run out of ammo and was drawing his side arm: a desert eagle. As the brutal fight raged, Daimyon found a first-aid station affixed to the wall: he could only grab a roll of gauze and a flask of disinfectant before Justiciar ran George through just as he put one armor piercing round through her chest. They both collapsed to the ground. George had died instantly, but Noel still had the strength to pull off her helmet. ”News flash!”
She said between gasps for breath. ”You’re, dead, cowboy.”
Noel attempted to rise again, but ended up stumbling into a wall. As she slid down it, her blood smeared the tile surface. George’s body laid perfectly still, with her katana sticking out of his chest. She had run him through the heart, he wouldn’t be getting back up. ”Can I see the pictures?” “N-Noel…”
the poet uttered, looking between the dead gunslinger and the dying reporter with tears in his eyes. Blood was painting all three of them red. He had wanted to say many things, but talking felt like too much energy at the moment. With slow, shaky movements, he pulled the photos out from his jacket, dragging himself closer to the woman. He tossed the pictures on the ground in between them; they spread out in an erratic montage. “Wow...you really...really were prolific.”
There had to be at least two dozen pictures in the stack, and Daimyon had a feeling the machine had not printed them all. “There’s...is that the diner? And all of us, so many of us…having breakfast...”
As he looked from image to image, he was also trying to tend to himself. He poured (entirely too much) disinfectant on the wound, which madly hurt, though he could only hiss. “And...and...what’s on that one? It’s...that’s Krista, isn’t it? P-playing the violin...ah, I wish I remembered her tunes…”
He attempted to roll the gauze on with one hand, which was proving to be a tough affair for the untrained man. Noel, meanwhile, moved some of the pictures around, then tapped at one of them. “No way…”
said Daimyon. “That’s...that’s us!”
The image showed Noel and the poet during a pair dance, him leading her. It must have been taken from a stand with a timer, as the angle was not as incisive as the rest, but he could still see both of them smiling, blushing even, earnestly.
Noel held her wounded body with one hand, and the photo Daimyon was looking at in the other. ”It’s strange to look at so many pictures, yet not remembering a single one of them.”
Noel shuffled through them, stopping to examine each one. ”I don’t even remember the people in these pictures.”
She groaned before looking at the one of her and Daimyon. ”Of course I believe you. This was pretty out of the way for you though. The act of trying to develop these photos alone should serve as proof.”
She picked up a picture of Krista and examined it closer. ”I guess I always knew though. I just didn’t want to admit it. But I’m paying for that now huh?”
She made a pained smile. ”Hey, we weren’t in love, were we?” “Love…”
Daimyon let the word hang in the air for a bit. He felt it, tasted it. “Love is...tricky when you...when you don’t have memories, isn’t it?”
He let out a single, painful chuckle. “But I...I did go through hell and...a lot of robots to get these photos.”
He fastened the gauze with one last, desperate pull. It was holding, but was it holding enough? “And you, well...you just took several bullets for me. That...that has to count for something...right?”
He looked at Noel with an unabashed smile and extended his uninjured hand to her. ”You’re dodging the question, but that tells me enough.”
Noel forced a grin before coughing, and some blood streamed down the corner of her lip. She extended her hand to Daimyon’s. ”Well, it seems like I’ve already died once. I came back from that, so I can probably do it again.”
Her face became stern when she drew her hand back. ”But you need to go as high as you can, Daimyon. Parker can’t hold them forever.”
She held up one of the pictures. ”Thank you for getting these for me. I’ll be looking at them a bit longer.”
Daimyon felt a rush of coldness when Noel withdrew—that, too, spoke volumes and raised questions he was in no state to answer. He was thinking hard about something else now: it was goodbye, he knew it, he knew it really well
, and yet for all his Infinite Poetness
he could not come up with parting words. The gauze wrap must not have been for naught as he felt a little less numb, enough for him to be able to (slowly, and after falling back three times) get on his feet. “When you beat death again...please come find me,”
he pleaded. “W-with your skills, I, I really believe you...can. And until that, I...I will remember you. I will. I will!”
Willing himself to move, he managed to turn away from the dying Noel. He found his way back to the first aid station, from where he downed a couple painkillers. They hit, or at least he thought they hit, right away, and he had the clarity of mind again to turn back to her one last time. “Blessed be you, who saved the poet—your name shall live on for eternity. Blessed be you, who loved the poet—your heart will rest in his in harmony. I’ll...I’ll see you one day, Noel. Goodbye!”
Wiping his tears, he left the bathroom, turned, and headed straight up the stairs to the fourth floor.