[Chapter 1 - 019]

Well, I’d talked to… mostly everyone. A few of us still hid our secrets, but we had a day before MONO-9000 would broadcast our dirty laundry to the world. Maybe the stragglers would come to terms with things before then. Even if they didn’t, though, one thing was for sure– nobody was going to die over any of this gossip. What kind of people did that robot think we were? Honestly.

It was about lunchtime, so I headed to the kitchen and made myself a sandwich. On my way out, though, I heard chatter coming from the rec room… I decided to peek in and see what was going on.

The rec room.

Several people crowded around the shelf of movies on the far wall. Honoka looked to be in charge, as usual.

Honoka thinks.
Honoka
Is there really nothing any good here?
Aoi frowns.
Aoi
Not that I can see…
Riko looks at her nails.
Riko
Someone went out of their way to pick the most pointless, childish movies possible for this room. I don’t know why we’re even bothering.
Michi makes a face.
Michi
Are you trying to tell me Cool Cat Saves The Kids isn’t a masterpiece of modern cinema?
Ishi looks baffled.
Ishi
Okay now you’re just makin’ shit up, dude.

If Michi had been avoiding me earlier, he didn’t show any sign of it now, as he held up a colorful DVD case with a grin.

Ishi looks baffled.
Ishi
What the fuck.
Tim laughs.
Timaeus
I’d recommend you don’t take any of Michi’s movie picks at face value…
Michi sheds a single tear.
Michi
Wow. Wow. I’m hurt, Tim.
Honoka yells.
Honoka
Oh, Timaeus! We’re having a movie night tonight at 9, and everyone’s invited!
Tim blinks.
Timaeus
Oh, uh… sure, but why a movie night?
Honoka smiles.
Honoka
I think it’s a good idea for everyone to spend some time together! Just because we’re stuck up here doesn’t mean we can’t have fun!
Michi makes a face.
Michi
Because love and friendship’s gonna make everything better, right?
Ishi frowns.
Ishi
Dude leave her alone, at least she’s trying.
Honoka smiles worriedly.
Honoka
W-well, I also think we should stick together, in case… s-something happens. Not that anything will happen!! But just to be safe…
Tim smiles.
Timaeus
No, I think it sounds like a good idea! But there’s just not really anything to watch…
Aoi thinks.
Aoi
Oh, I think there might be one more place on this ship with movies, if my hypothesis is correct…
Riko looks blank.
Riko
Aoi grins.
Aoi
Riko blushes.
Riko
…Fine. I have some Star Trek box sets in my dorm. But if you get a single scratch on those disks…

Aoi pumped their fists in victory.

Honoka grins.
Honoka
Oh Riko, you’re a lifesaver!
Ishi perks up.
Ishi
Which one are we gonna watch? Is it the one with Chris Pine? Tim, you like Chris Pine, right?

Thanks for announcing my celebrity crush to the entire room, Ishi.

Riko hisses.
Riko
No, we’re going to watch a real Star Trek movie.
Aoi giggles.
Aoi
Aw, they’re not that bad! Though they don’t really capture the spirit of the original show…

With that, Riko stalked off towards the dorms, Aoi tagging along behind as they debated which movie would be the best introduction to the series.

Honoka thinks.
Honoka
So now we just need snacks, and decorations, and invitations–
Tim laughs nervously.
Timaeus
I don’t think it needs to be that big of an ordeal…
Ishi grins.
Ishi
Speak for yourself, I want free food!
Michi thinks.
Michi
Maybe one of the kitchen-dwellers will help us out…

With our feature film decided, the impromptu party planning committee made their way out to the cafeteria, where we found a few more students eating lunch. Jurou was the first to notice and wave us over, cordial as always.

Jurou laughs.
Jurou
Well howdy! What’s the big ol’ crowd here for?
Vash blinks.
Vasundhara
D-did something happen?
Tim smiles.
Timaeus
Everything’s fine! We were just thinking about watching a movie tonight…
Sal sparkles.
Salvatore
Oh that sounds lovely!~
Siegfried frowns.
Siegfried
Hrm… At a time like this?
Honoka huffs.
Honoka
Well, why not? We could all use some cheering up! Especially you, mister grumpyguts.

Honoka bopped Siegfried on the shoulder with her ever-present cane, provoking a grumble from her target and a snort-laugh from Jurou.

Jurou laughs.
Jurou
Sounds like a plan, hahahaw! I’m in!
Vash smiles.
Vasundhara
Yeah, I’ll go if everyone else is going…
Kapono grins.
Kapono
…!
Sal laughs.
Salvatore
C’mon, Sieg, would it kill you to lighten up a little?
Siegfried yells.
Siegfried
Ja?? It could, actually??? Is nobody taking this danger seriously–
Sal grins.
Salvatore
In that case, isn’t there safety in numbers? I love a handsome lone wolf as much as anybody else, but wandering around by yourself is such an easy way to get killed…~

Salvatore grinned his shark-toothed grin up at Siegfried, who frowned back as he tried to decide if that was a threat or a pick-up line.

Siegfried sighs.
Siegfried
…Hmph. If you insist.
Jurou throws some horns.
Jurou
Alright! Let’s break out th’ popcorn! Yeehaw!
Honoka smiles.
Honoka
Oh, right! Jurou, I was going to talk to you about the snack situation…
Jurou laughs.
Jurou
‘Course I’ll help! I can throw y’all together some–
MONO-9000 appears!
MONO-9000
Okay, this is just getting ridiculous! I’m not gonna sit back and watch this any longer!!
Jurou screams.
Jurou
AAAAAH! Where’d you come from?!
MONO-9000 speaks.
MONO-9000
The door, dumbass!

Alas, we would never find out Jurou’s favorite movie snack, as our conversation was interrupted by the worst possible intruder.

Ishi flips the bird.
Ishi
Hey! Fuck off!!
Michi pouts.
Michi
Man, right on cue, huh…
Kapono winces.
Kapono
…You…!!
Salvatore snarls.
Salvatore
What the hell are you doing here?!
Vash starts crying.
Vasundhara
W-w-we haven’t d-done anything wrong…
Honoka yells.
Honoka
That’s right! We haven’t broken any of your rules!
MONO-9000 sighs.
MONO-9000
Well not technically, I guess… But you’re totally missing the spirit of the game!
Honoka looks baffled.
Honoka
The spirit of the game???
MONO-9000 gets big mad.
MONO-9000
Listen, it was bad enough that you people had such boring-ass backstories to work with in the first place! Then half of you just straight up told everyone your darkest secrets with your lives on the line and now you’re planning a movie night?! That’s just disrespectful!!!

The thing waved its claws at us as if all of this was somehow our fault.

Tim yells.
Timaeus
S-so what?! You’re the one who kidnapped us!
Ishi also yells.
Ishi
Yeah!! You fuckin' drag 'em, Tim!
Sal frowns.
Salvatore
Heaven forbid we communicate like reasonable human beings, right?
Michi shrugs.
Michi
I can do some cartwheels if I’m not entertaining enough for you…
MONO-9000 looks spooky.
MONO-9000
Man, if I’d known you people were gonna be such goody-two-shoes… I guess I’ll just have to resort to boring old Plan B!
Sieg looks terrified.
Siegfried
What… what are you–
Jurou looks nervous.
Jurou
I got a bad feelin’ ‘bout this–

A microphone popped out of a hatch in MONO-9000’s chassis, and suddenly its voice boomed from every speaker in the room– and presumably, every speaker on the station.

MONO-9000 glares at the crowd.
MONO-9000
The kitchen, pantry, and all other sources of food will be locked away until someone gets off their ass and kills somebody! Rationally discuss your way out of that one, meatbags!
Vash screams.
Vasundhara
W-w-what?!
Ishi looks terrified, for once.
Ishi
What the fuck?!
Michi gulps.
Michi
Holy shit?
Honoka looks furious.
Honoka
Y-you can’t just do that–

Honoka’s outburst was interrupted by the slam of a sturdy metal grate over the entrance to the kitchen– apparently, it could just do that. Rather than respond to the sudden chaos, though, MONO-9000 simply whined to itself as it bobbed away from the cafeteria.

MONO-9000 pouts.
MONO-9000
Weh… I thought my motive was cool…

It wasn’t long before the rest of the students stampeded into the room, having just heard the announcement themselves.

Riko looks furious.
Riko
What the hell is going on?!
Tiffani growls.
Tiffani
God I knew someone was gonna fuck this up–
Yusra frowns.
Yusra
Everybody please stay calm, we can–
Nikola is not staying calm.
Nikola
What are we gonna do what are we gonna do–
Siegfried is furious.
Siegfried
I told you people this was a terrible idea! And now look what happens!
Honoka starts crying.
Honoka
I-I’m sorry I’m sorry–
Gugalanna screams at the top of her lungs.
Gugalanna
Everybody shut uuuuuuuuuuup!

Gugalanna’s roar silenced (and deafened) the crowd as she stood on a table and glared around the room.

Gugalanna bellows furiously at the students.
Gugalanna
¡¡Cobardes!! Is this how you act in the face of death? Turning on each other at the slightest danger and squealing like pigs?! I refuse to meet my maker surrounded by bickering majaderos!!!

I wasn’t entirely sure what a cobarde or majadero was, but neither sounded terribly flattering. Salvatore took advantage of the silence to try and calm things down.

Sal frowns.
Salvatore
She’s right. Pointing fingers is useless.
Yusra sighs.
Yusra
I’m sure MONO-9000 would have meddled with our situation to get what it wants, regardless of what we did to stop it…
Honoka frowns.
Honoka
B-but if I hadn’t said anything…
Sal smiles gently.
Salvatore
It was a logical idea at the time, dear. In fact, I think we should go through with it! What’s the movie?
Aoi thinks.
Aoi
Uh, we were trying to decide between the first Star Trek and Wrath of Khan, but…
Sieg looks pissed.
Siegfried
You cannot be serious!
Vash whimpers.
Vasundhara
I-I don’t really feel like watching anything now…
Tim thinks.
Timaeus
Ah, but it’s like they were saying earlier… It’s still safer for us to stick together.
Tiffani speaks.
Tiffani
I’d rather just hole up in my room and fucking starve to death, if that’s chill.
Sal frowns.
Salvatore
Well I can’t stop you, dear. But it’s only been a few days, it’s still too soon to give up on–

This time, Salvatore was interrupted by a much higher-pitched voice.

Nikola is McFreaking Losing It.
Nikola
Y-y-you really still think we can just– up and leave this place?! We’re in space! That bloody robot could kill us any moment now! It knows every little thing about us a-and now there’s no food and we’re fifty bajillion miles from home and–
Tim yelps.
Timaeus
Nik! Nik, listen to me, let’s take a deep breath and–
Michi sighs.
Michi
Jesus, this is a mess.
Yusra fidgets with her rings.
Yusra
If we can just get a distress signal out, maybe someone will find us and–
Riko looks scared.
Riko
But how do we get to the communications systems without MONO– even if we knew where they were–
Honoka laughs weakly.
Honoka
Th-there’s gotta be something we can do, right? But right now we need to–
Siegfried growls.
Siegfried
We have no time to dance around the truth! Someone must die and we need to–
Sal snaps at him.
Salvatore
Cut that shit out Sieg you are not helping–
Vash sobs.
Vasundhara
D-don’t say that!! Uwaaaaahh!
Jurou panics.
Jurou
Th-they gotta be lookin’ for us!! My folks are out there! They gotta be!
Even Ishi is starting to crack.
Ishi
This is all fuckin’ bullshit!!
Yusra thinks.
Yusra
Excuse me, Gugalanna, would you…

The Bull of Heaven nodded and stomped on the table again. That was an extremely sturdy table…

Gugalanna screams.
Gugalanna
Quiiiiiieeeeeeeetttttttttt!!!

Another silence fell over the cafeteria, much more tense than the last one.

Sal snarls.
Salvatore
…We are all obviously too worked up about this to come up with a reasonable plan of action.
Siegfried yells.
Siegfried
But we cannot just pretend everything is fine!
Sal yells back.
Salvatore
Of course it’s not! But there’s nothing we can do about it tonight.
Yusra frowns.
Yusra
Tomorrow we should regroup, and if no one’s had any ideas overnight, we can search the station one more time. But that’s tomorrow. Until then…
Yusra smiles gently.
Yusra
I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a Star Trek movie!
Honoka whimpers.
Honoka
…You still want to…?
Jurou smiles.
Jurou
Yeah! S-sorry there won’t be any snacks, though…
Aoi puffs their cheeks out.
Aoi
It’s not like that’s your fault…
Tiffani grumbles.
Tiffani
Yeah, I’m not going. Have fun with your nerd movies or whatever, don’t knock unless you find some food, bye.
Michi laughs nervously.
Michi
Yeah, uh, there’s actual locks on the dorms, right?
Siegfried looks away.
Siegfried
Ja. I think it foolish not to make use of them.
Sal frowns.
Salvatore
That’s only safer if you don’t care about having an alibi…

But Salvatore’s words were lost on the three of them as they stormed out of the cafeteria, and the rest of the crowd began to disperse.

Riko sighs.
Riko
I suppose I will see you tonight… those of you who choose to come.
Honoka sighs.
Honoka
…I hope we’re doing the right thing…
Aoi frowns.
Aoi
It’s hard to know for sure…
Nikola sighs.
Nikola
I-I mean I guess given the option I’d rather not be alone?
Jurou frowns.
Jurou
Yea, hope them folks’ll be okay…
Guga looks away.
Gugalanna
But I think you got the right idea, chica. Honoka, right? What time are we meeting again?
Honoka smiles weakly.
Honoka
Um… Still 9pm, I guess? If that works for everyone…
Vash looks away.
Vasundhara
…I’ll… I’ll think about it…
Kapono frowns.
Kapono
Ishi sighs.
Ishi
…What are you gonna do, Tim?
Tim blinks.
Timaeus
Oh… me?

I’d gotten so lost trying to keep up with the pandemonium that I hadn’t really thought about how I felt about the situation. The punishment from MONO-9000 really did sound like a death sentence… but was there still a chance, like Yusra said, of sending off a distress signal? Would someone come to help us?

There was one thing I knew for sure, though– nothing like that would get resolved tonight. Tomorrow, maybe, we could find some answers… We just needed to get through tonight. I did wonder if it would be safer to stay locked up in my room, but…

Tim smiles gently.
Timaeus
I’m gonna go to the movie night. Better to mope around with some friends and a movie than mope around by myself, right?
Ishi smiles back.
Ishi
That’s what I thought too…
Ishi smiles.
Ishi
…You just wanna see Chris Pine one more time, don’t you?
Tim grumbles.
Timaeus
He’s not even in this one…