Guilty Party is the tenth chapter of Lissa's Game High fanfic Pixels and Polygons. It can be read below.
Guilty Party Edit
Vanessa woke up the next morning at five-thirty-six AM due to a loud pounding on her door.
“Look, I don’ vant to see you just as much as you don’ vant to see me. But zis is somezing of an emergency, an’ considering you did figure out ze princess debacle…”
She pushed some of her rumpled orange hair back, yawning in the face of the German. “Really nice of you, super flattered, tired. G’bye.”
“No! No no no, you are helping me.” She pushed the fox out of the way and sat down on her bed, crossing her arms and holding her head up high, as though this was a triumphant event she just accomplished.
Vanessa sighed loudly, rubbing her eyes. She shut the dorm room door and snuck a peek around the room divider, assuring that Harold was sound asleep. He was. L.O.G., she wished she was him right about now. She smoothed out her button-up pajama top and plopped down into her desk chair, rooting around until she found a bright red notebook and a pencil. She quickly went through the notebook until she found a blank page, and then Vanessa’s eyes slowly rolled over towards Magnilde. “Okay. So. What d’you need?”
“Ah, danke. Nov. See, it appears zat some people are under ze impression zat I may hafe...Maimed someone.”
“General Rat.” Vanessa murmured, jotting this down. “And then?”
“Vhat do you mean, ‘an’ zen’? I didn’t touch him. I barely efen sav him! Ve don’ ‘zactly see eye to eye on a fev zings.” The medic shot the spy a dirty look. “Are you on zeir side or mine?”
“Until all the details are found? I’m a neutral party.” She drew a square under her notes, eyes swiveling back towards Magnilde. “Now, describe what happened.”
“Vhat actually happened, or vhat zey say happened?”
“Say. For now. We’ll argue schematics of what actually happened later.”
Magnilde sighed, crossing her arms, looking away. “...So, zey say, Gregory vas vorking on his poisons. I don’ knov vhat he vas planning to do vith zem. Maybe he finally killed Ambros, heh, vouldn’t zat be somezing...Anyhov. Zey say I snuck up on him vith a syringe full of somezing, narcotics maybe, an’ stabbed him vith it. He dropped ze poison an’ I made ze body disappear.”
As she was speaking, Vanessa drew out little caricatures of both the puppet rat and the German medic, making arrows and little notes to herself to draw out the crime scene. “Perchance, do you have the syringe?”
“No. Foltar took it for testing.”
“Of course. Always one step ahead, Voltar is. They don’t call him ‘the omniscient’ for nothing!” A slight laugh left her, despite it all, and Magnilde gave her a disapproving stare. Another square was drawn under the first square. “Okay, so now what really happened? Hm?”
“I vasn’t efen near ze science room! I vas in the nurse’s office, of course. Vith Hattie. He’d gotten in one of his moods,” She whistled and twirled a finger around her ear, to clarify just what mood she was talking about, “An’ had gotten a little bit bloodied up. So I vas helping vith zat. Pretty fun, actually; vish I knev vho he fought vith to get zose cuts…”
Vanessa drew this out as well, careful to include a variety of hats on Hattie’s caricature, as well as a Nurse Mirania caricature since logically she was there too. “...Alright, I got it, I think. But if you were here, how’d a syringe get all the way…”
Magnilde huffed loudly. “I vas framed! Somone vanted to do Gregory in, L.O.G. knovs vhy, and decided I vould be an easy target to pick on! Oh, zey’ll be sorry, if I efer find zem I’m going to stick zem vith so many needles zey von’t--”
The spy tuned out her words, focusing on both of her little drawings. It wasn’t the framing of Magnilde she was interested in. It was the disappearance of Gregory Templeton. Which made three disappearances, and as Dr. Lobe could tell you, it took three to deduce a pattern when it came to mathematics. Simon had once spoke of thinking of this like a puzzle...So there had to be some sort of pattern to it all...Ambros, Guybrush, Gregory. Ambros, Guybrush, Gregory. Tökkentäkker, Threepwood, Templeton. Well, all their surnames started with ‘t’, but Vanessa couldn’t shake the feeling that the answer couldn’t possibly be quite that petty. They didn’t exactly have the same sort of look to them...Arcade shooter, point-and-click, puzzle platformer...Villain, hero, villain.
Nothing seemed to add up.
“Are you listening to me?” Magnilde asked, indignant, the faraway look in Vanessa’s eyes not going unnoticed. The question was, of course, rhetorical--She clearly wasn’t. The nurse gave a huff, and Vanessa shut her notebook, twirling her pencil through her fingers. Nothing balanced out with this. The fox looked over, tipping her pencil towards Magnilde for the time being. “Ambros, Guybrush, Gregory. What do they have in common?”
“Is zis supposed to be a riddle? I don’ knov! Aren’t you from a point-an’-click puzzle game? Or, here’s a zought, ask Simon about zis! Nov, are you going to help me?”
“Who all found your syringe? Give me some witnesses.”
“Eferyone from Portal, nix Vhitney. An’ ze, ah, vhat’s-her-face...Ze bear. Ze teddy bear? TED’s roommate.”
The fox paused, flipping her notebook open to the back cover and scribbling down these names. “Thanks. Witness investigation. Standard, y’know.” Then she fingered the pencil’s eraser, twisting it sideways until it clicked into a new position, a small red light coming from a dot on one side. “Don’t you worry, Klug, we’ll get this all figured out.”
The pencil was actually a voice recorder. Most of Vanessa’s pencils were. It was in the late afternoon all six of them could properly group up, and once they were all sitting on the floor of Simon’s dorm (who adamantly insisted his dorm become the meeting room because he was from a puzzle game and ergo most well-equipped for this), Vanessa brushed herself off and set her pencil into playback mode.
A crackling of static, and then, a voice.
“Yeah, no, I dunno how she managed ‘t off Gregory like that--But, you know, it’s kind of impressive actually! Slippin’ through the shadows like some kinda...Some kinda spy or something! Was that offencive? Figure of speech, don’t tell ‘er I said that.”
“Would she have any sort of motive for ending Gregory’s game, so to speak?”
A pause, a few squeaking sounds from far away. “Uh, not that I know of, actually. You know any, Scaredy?” Squeak, squeak. “Thought not. Ah, no, no, seems there ain’t no motive for this sort of--Which is kind of weird actually, ‘cause I’ve read some criminal books--Y’know, I read those once, haha, still not a moron--”
“...I never once said you were…”
“An’ everyone has a motive, right? Like, if I were to kill a guy--No, no, it’s a--It’s a hypothetical, Scaredy, don’t flinch like that! Anyway, if I were to kill a guy, I’d make sure I got me a reason to do it, you see? I wouldn’t go about killin’ people willy-nilly, I’m not a monster, that’s her job, y’see. No, no, not you her, her her! You know, her--Right, right, sorry! So, yeah, sorry ‘bout that, Nessa.”
“No trouble. No trouble at all. Want to venture a guess at the next disappearance?”
“Ah--Probably me, now that ‘ya mention it! If it’s still Magnilde, well--She don’t like me all too much, no. Actually, I don’t think anybody likes me all too much. Well, ‘cept EPP, she’s adorable, y’know what I’m sayin’? And Scaredy, of course! But other then that--No, no, not so much, no. So--You’re sayin’ I could die from this!? I don’t want to die! Who’d go about killin’ poor, pathetic TED?”
A loud sigh. “Thank you, TED.” Then the recording stopped, and Vanessa twisted the eraser so the new one wouldn’t begin. She looked back to the rest of the group. “Well?”
Takashi fidgeted slightly, shifting his weight and toying with his cape in his hands. “You know, if you gave me enough time, I could have salvaged up some truth serum…”
Here there was a long, potent pause. Vanessa opened her mouth, as though about to come up with a reason as to why she hadn’t asked him to do this, and then shut her mouth again, unable to come up with one. She gave a few slow nods, taking the pencil and scratching a memo to herself on the back of her hand. “Officially keeping that in mind.” With no more comments on this from the peanut gallery, Vanessa twisted the eraser again, a new crackle of static and then a new voice sounding.
“...Look, I don’t know who cares enough about Gregory to end him, alright? Syringe says it’s Magnilde, and I’m inclined to believe that. It wasn’t me who died, so why should I care?”
“Because it could be you, Darcy. Considering your lineage I’d deem that likely.”
“What, you’re pigeonholing me now? That isn’t fair. Just because you’re from a kids game and get death immunity or something does not mean--”
“It’s not death immunity, it’s more--Anyway! Can you think of any reason as to why Magnilde would want to do him in?”
“...Uh, this I know--She didn’t really like his dabbling in poison. She kinda wanted that stuff for herself but...Come on. I don’t get it. I never even heard of Puppeteer before he showed up, and everyone could see he was yellow-bellied to begin with...I don’t get it. So I’m not bothering trying to get it. As long as it isn’t me. As long as it isn’t me.”
“Right, of course. Venture a guess as to who’s going next?”
“Student or teacher? Teacher, Mr. Bonaparte, no contest. But student...Heh...You know that slime girl in science class?”
“Yeah, her. She’s an absolute goner. Mark my words.”
“...Thank you, Darcy.” The recording stopped again, Vanessa clicking the eraser and looking to them again with a small head gesture.
This time, however…
“You know, she’s kinda got a point.” It was Sofia who spoke, threading a rose out of her hair and toying with it in her hands. “I mean, don’t they all die? All the guys who left, I mean. They die in the end.”
Simon gave a small, inquisitive hum, ticking off on his fingers. “...Mr. Threepwood gets murdered by LeChuck…”
“...General Rat gets a taste of his own medicine…” Takashi continued.
Harold tapped Vanessa once or twice, whispering something to her. Vanessa proceeded to repeat it back: “...And Baron von Tökkentäkker gets torn up by a zeppelin propeller.” A pause, and she looked back to the pencil in her hand, giving a small shrug. “It all balances out.”
“So, we’re all safe, then?” Honey made a circle with her finger, indicating the whole group. “Nonna’ us die. Well, Harold gets to be a skeleton a few times, but…”
Simon nodded, reaching over and taking the notebook Vanessa had used before to detail Magnilde’s case. He fumbled through his coat and came up with a pen, opening the notebook and scribbling this possible connection down. “Meaning, both TED and Darcy would be in the runnings…Yet this seems a dollop arbitrary.” He glanced back up. “Why kill who’s already gonna die? Speeding up the process? And it leaves a few grey areas--Namely, the guess of GG. Does she count as ‘dead’?” Simon looked back to Takashi, as though expecting him to somehow know the answer to this question. The wizard gave a half-hearted shrug, shaking his head. Simon looked back to the notebook, frowning, beginning to scrawl a few more details and notes.
“And what about the Headmasters?” Sofia finally asked, bending and twisting her rose’s stem into a knot as some sort of idle gesture. “I mean, pensar en ello. What if they leave? What happens then?”
This thought was greeted with an uncomfortable silence. Everyone glanced at one another, Harold subtly swallowing something back. Vanessa twiddled her pencil back and forth, emitting a low, breathy sigh. “...Well, all the more reason to peg the guilty party, then.” She shook her sleeve, a small mechanical spider falling out. She observed it intently, then felt around her shirt, pulling a small remote from her cuff and extending the antenna. A click, and the spider scuttled about, crawling onto her shoulder. “I’ll try and get some intel from this lil’ guy. We’ll sort out this tangled web of intrigue or be caught like flies trying!”
Honey’s eyelids lowered, her jaw setting. “Is this really the time for puns, Nessa?”
“Every time is a time for puns.” She replied matter-of-factly, clicking the remote once or twice more, the spider scuttling down her body and then out the door. “It’s a radio,” She explained, pushing up her sleeve and observing her wristwatch, twisting dials until her digital watch face displayed not the time, but an intricate camera system. “Had to set it up myself,” Vanessa muttered, but she seemed rather proud of this fact, turning a dial on her watch to shift through the cameras, “Took a whole weekend. But I think it’s pretty solid. So, where’s our perp gonna strike next, hmm?”
“Check on The Outfielder for me,” Simon said, flipping to a blank notebook page and making a flowchart of victims, locations, and possible culprits and motives. “He was saying some strange things during the party.”
"Corruptions and imposters, mostly.” But then there was a pause. Simon looked up slowly, eyes rolling between each one of his friends. “...While I’m more then certain it’s just a paranoia brought on by his own game, I cannot help but worry…”
Sofia gasped, borderline offended by the implication. “Mi nombre es Sofía Flamenco! La primera y única. De ninguna manera puede alguien me imitar!” She straightened with a grin, the rose stem she was playing with proceeding to finally snap.
The pirate gave a quick exhale through his nose, shaking his head. He may not have gathered a lick of what she said, but the gist was clear enough. “I didn’t doubt you,” He insisted, “I’m just worried is all. After everything. Last thing I want is one of you to go like Gregory and Mister Threepwood and…” A pause, his eyes drifting back towards Harold, who shifted awkwardly to avoid his gaze. “...Ambros.”
Harold looked down, wringing his hands, looking almost guilty over something. He only looked up once more when he received a pat or two on the shoulder from Takashi, who even shot him a reassuring grin. “We’ll be okay,” Takashi said, his haughty villainous upbringing making him excellent at swallowing his doubts.
“Yeah, I dunno why y’never have any faith in us.” The female pirate snickered, slowly reclining until she was lying on her back on the floor, hands behind her head. “We’ve got us two whole protagonists ‘ere, an’ as y’know, protagonists never ever lose ever.”
Vanessa’s eyes twitched up from her wristwatch and remote for a brief moment. “Shadow of the Colossus.”
“‘Ey, ‘ey, that don’t count.” Honey shot a glare back up at Vanessa, who gave a shrug of ‘well if you insist’ and went back to her gadgets. “Two of six, that’s like...One of three. An’ that’s a decently sized fraction. And hey, even I get a helpful streak--Shake It!, anyone?--And doesn’t Simon, like, become less of a bad guy? Really the only guys screwing us over are Takashi an’ Sofia, when ‘ya think about--!”
This claim was met with Sofia’s fist as it impacted Honey’s nose. The pirate bolted upright instinctively, clutching her nose, feeling something slip down her fingers and pulling away a bit to see the blood. There was a long pause. And then Honey grinned, laughing, looking back at Sofia. “Niiiiice shot there.” She chuckled, and Sofia beamed with pride.
Simon’s eyes rolled, his fingers going up to pinch the bridge of his nose. Foolishness. Complete and utter foolishness. “Whatever. Come now, Sofia, I see my sympathies aren’t being taken brightly. Let us show our guests the door whilst we work this out, hmm?”
Vanessa tutted, frowning at her cameras, beckoning for Harold to follow behind her. “My cameras have gone all askew…” She muttered, Harold quickly trotting to catch up to her and giving her a very sympathetic sort of look.
Honey jumped up, shooting Sofia a wink for her new bloody nose, and Sofia gave her a thumbs-up in reply. It was Takashi who hesitated, loosening the drawstring on his cape slightly, looking back towards Simon. Simon made a dismissive shooing motion with his hands, and the wizard exhaled slowly, clasping his hands behind his back and trailing on behind Honey.
The room now empty, Simon allowed himself to groan in frustration, burying his face in his fists. “I don’t get it,” He muttered into his hands, shaking his head slightly. “I don’t--This should be easy, it’s a simple puzzle of relations, but it can’t just be because they die at the end...” A small groan, his knuckles lightly pressing into his eyes. A hand went onto his shoulder, and he didn’t so much as shift. “Off, Sofia.”
“Not solving this isn’t going to kill you, stupid.”
“Oh, but it is.” He replied, somber as he very slowly gathered the notebook once more. “Oh, but it is.”
It was exactly three-thirty-seven in the morning when the remote for the spider crackled to life and began displaying faint sounds.
Footsteps. The sound of something scraping across the ground. Heavy breathing. Then, a strange noise that could only be described as ‘glitchy’; a sound made from static and white noise and looping audio bytes and crackling electricity. As soon as the sound began, though, it had ceased. A grainy white noise grew louder, then it dimmed, then it vanished entirely.
Of course, nobody in the dorm room was awake at three-thirty-seven in the morning to hear such an interesting sound. But this was of no issue. For the spider’s owner had planned for this.
Near the spider’s remote was a pencil, a dot on the side glowing red.
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