Chapter 1: And Empty Room Full of Talent Part 3

"Don't you find it strange that there are four keys remaining?"

…Shit. I forgot to take the bald guy's key off the ring! My careless mistake caused Mia to stand up and continue.

"Furthermore, don't you find it quite odd that Nishinzu and Hale weren't with a third person when they came by to free the rest of you?" Everyone collectively turned to look at Poppy and I. The suspicious glares were overpowering, and I couldn't help but stare at Mia like a deer in headlights.

"Now, while I would love to call for an explanation, you did free all of us, which makes your end goal questionable," Mia started for the exit, snagging the key ring out of Poppy's grasp, "So, for the time being, I'll take the lead for this investigation. You two suspects can just sit back and follow our lead, and if we happen to find anything to convict you of anything, I'll make sure to get all of the answers out of your lips." Mia made her threat clear with a smug grin and a sharp tone, and exited the room, holding it open for everyone else, who soon followed her lead.



"...Fuck." Poppy's single word basically summed up how I was feeling once we were alone. "What are we going to do? If they find out about-"

"Let's just go along with it for right now. We haven't done anything wrong, and we can explain ourselves fully," I said, not so confidently, "Plus staying here will just make us look more suspicious." I patted Poppy on the shoulder, and went for the exit, thankful to hear her follow behind. We left the room and caught up with the group, who were already chatting amongst themselves, with a looming sense of paranoia as we met up with them. Everyone pretended like they weren't all staring at us as they conversed, but their backward glances became more and more obvious as time went on.

"So, how much about our current situation is known right now?" Mia questioned.

"Just about as much as you guys, sorry." Akira responded.

"Well, that's not good, haha…" Joseph added in, laughing nervously again.

"I already assumed that no one in your group would have any pertinent pristine information, so it doesn't disappoint me that much." Liam expertly quipped.

"J-Just h-how smart are you? Y-You seem to know a l-lot of big words…" Jinju innocently asked.

"I doubt this lad's actually got anything useful up in his brain, dude." Jambo replied, pointing to his head.

"...." Poppy looked like she wanted to add something to the conversation, but every time, she kept on stopping herself from doing so.

As the group kept chatting, I noticed a room to our right that we were just about to pass.

"Guys, there's a new room over there." I announced, loud enough for everyone to stop talking and look.

"Oh, would you look at that. Seems you're actually telling the truth about something," Mia responded, condescendingly, "Thanks for pointing that out." Everyone walked over to the room, which was different than the normal ones that we were used to.

"Might as well get this over with then, folks!" Akira said, pushing open the door, allowing us to enter the next room.

The room didn't have anybody in it. Instead, it was a bathroom. There were three urinals on the walls, leading up to two stalls, with toilets inside. The quality of the bathroom was beyond terrible, rusted urinal handles and no mirrors or sinks in sight.

Poppy spoke up, annoyance clear in her voice, entering the room spouting, "Blah blah, we're not going to steal ya kidneys, blah blah, we're here to free ya, blah bl-"

"Good job talking to yourself." Mia interrupted, pushing her to the side. Poppy gave up after realizing no one was in the room, sluggishly walking back to my side as Mia seemingly made herself the president, or rather the dictator of our group. She assigned everyone to survey the room, inch by inch. She didn't assign either of us to search however, clearly wanting to keep us as stationary as possible. After some time, everyone had concluded their investigations.

"Ladies and gentleman, I . . . haven't found anything." Akira announced, coming out of a stall.

"Same here, sorry." Joseph said, exiting the other stall.

"I assumed as much, but there does not seem to be any secret buttons or compartments here." Liam claimed, running his hand along the wall.

"I-I found a v-vent, I think." Jinju stuttered, pointing to a large grated opening in the wall. It was stationed on the ground, and was large enough to fit a person in without getting stuck. Mia strutted to the vent and examined it closely, getting down and peering through the grate. After she finished her inspection, she took off both of her heels, and hung them on the vent grate.

"What exactly are you attempting?" Liam questioned with an eyebrow raised.

"This vent leads somewhere clearly, since I can see another grate straight ahead, so there's probably another room in that direction, and I want to see where it leads to." Mia explained, using her hands to indicate the vents and the rooms.

"Why would we need to confirm that?" Akira questioned, as Mia got up.

"There might be more vents in other rooms, and also potentially hidden rooms. Mapping out the vents' locations, we can get a better understanding of this place," Mia explained, making her way to the exit, "That, and I just didn't feel like wearing heels while we walk, it starts to hurt after a while."

"You've got a point there, guess we'll just go with that then, lass." Jambo shrugged and moved his hand to his face, rubbing his stubbly chin. Once Mia had reached the exit, she opened the door and left the bathrooms, pushing past Poppy and I, with everyone else following behind her, avoiding physical contact with us. Once they had all passed, the two of us silently followed as well.

After a shorter walk than usual, we all noticed a door on our left, just like the bathrooms, which supported Mia's theory and ego.

"Being right always feels so good." Mia proclaimed her victory, and hurried over to the door, pushing her way in. She wasn't prepared for anything but an empty room and a vent, but thankfully, she couldn't have been more caught by surprise.

Inside the room was a single person. He was standing up, trying to move his way along a divider in the center or the room, which he was chained to. The boy had what I presume to be short blonde hair, with an odd explorer type helmet on. He wore a red and white tracksuit, with a blue bandana wrapped around his neck. Finally, he had red and blue running shoes on, which seemed to have seen better days. The look on his face was that of shock and excitement.

"Oh, more people! Hear that Risa, you were right! There were voices coming from the vent! There's a lot of people that just walked in!" Said the only guy we could see in the room, sounding excited to see us.

"Wh-what are they doing? Do they have weapons?! Don't get too close to them yet, Urkstin!" This came from a female sounding voice, sounding like it was on the opposite side of the divider in the middle of the room. Hearing and seeing these two new people caused Mia to stop dead in her tracks. I waited to hear a third new voice, but after a short time of not hearing anything, I realized what was different about this room.

"We ain't stealin' kidneys or nothin'! We're here to help y'all out," Poppy announced, taking her key ring back from Mia's hand without any resistance, "All I need is yer name and Ultimate if ya got one." Poppy had taken the lead in the information briefing, and her newly returned chipper mood was met by the new guy's mood spiking up as well.

"Oh, I'll go first! My name's Urkstin Cawkheys, Ultimate Racer! I've got the best last name around, nice to meet you all!" Urkstin's key was given to him, and as he feverishly unlocked his chain, a few of us moved to the opposite side of the divider, to the source of the second voice.

On the other side of the divider was a girl, who was on the ground, clutching her legs to her chest, looking terrified. She had long, almost dramatically waving black hair, and a face with more makeup on than I would ever wear in my life. She was wearing a purple dress, which went all the way down to her knees, alongside black heels, that seemed a bit longer than Mia's. She finally had on multiple different bracelets, each with their own color and shine, alongside a fancy looking watch.

Before we could ask the girl for her name, Urkstin ran himself over to her, nearly slipping on the floor out of excitement. After reaching her, he let out a happy squeal and shook her hand, which made her relax a lot.

"Gosh, it's so nice being able to actually see you now, Risa!" The girl surprisingly looked just as happy as Urkstin did once he ran over, and returned the hand shake.

"Same to you, hun," She responded gleefully, before looking to us for her introduction, "Thank you kindly for freeing us. My name is Risa Yutamoro. Unlike Urkstin, I don't have an Ultimate. I apologize if that's disappointing to any of you." Her tone had drastically shifted from when we first came in. It was much more composed, seductive even. Part of me could sense a strange hint of apprehension still hidden deep down, but it was overshadowed by the rest of her flamboyant personality.

"So, you two weren't able to see each other?" I asked, as Risa's key was given to her.

"Yes. Unfortunately, we were on opposite sides of this divider the entire time. Thankfully, Urkstin here helped me through the panic I was experiencing when I first woke up." Risa explained, resting her hands on Urkstin's shoulders, who just seemed happy to be helpful.

"So are the rest of you guys in the same situation?" He asked, leaning to see the rest of the group behind Poppy and I.

"Indeed, you are our fourth group." Liam assured. While we all explained what we knew so far to Urkstin and Risa, I noticed Mia, still standing at the entrance, looking confused. Urkstin and Risa had unintentionally supported my claim about how Poppy and I were the only ones in our room, that much I knew. However, when I glanced at the key ring in Poppy's hand, I realized why Mia looked so confused.

There were still two keys left, which didn't make any sense. The bald guy in our room is one of them, but what about the other key? What was it for?

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