Ugh, nice watch, run it
Robbie and Mullet find out there's a School's Conspiracy Iceberg that has existed for a long time. Now it's time for Alco-san to tell them, and let the duo learn a lot from the iceberg.
The Iceberg - The Portal
Robbie (I actually have no idea which one I want to choose. But whether him or Mullet, I guess I better choose Robbie…)
"School iceberg?" Mullet scratched his head.
"Yes," Alco-san nodded, "It's a conspiracy arranged from the surface to deep down to the bottom. The iceberg splits into layers that delved deeper and deeper into the school's anomalies, theories, and past. The surface topics are a lot more common and well-known, while the ones deeper down are restricted to be known and more dangerous to research. Also, since it's restricted, people are don't dare to find out,"
"That means… if I'm investigating the "true darkness" topics, it may cost my life, am I right?" Robbie asked.
"Yep. That's why only a few of us are brave enough to mine the rocks near the lava. And, because our mission right now is staying alive and stay undetected,"
"Just tell me you're coward, right?" Mullet doubted.
"Mullet," Alco-san rolled up his left sleeves, exposing his incision scar, "Did you see this cut?"
"This is what happened to me during finding out the number 26 (School advertisement was rejected due to exposed secrets) seven months ago. What I remembered back there was my heart almost got pierced just using some stationeries! You know what? They're really scared the stuff out of me! Thank goodness they didn't do the heart surgery…"
"Whoa!" Robbie and Mullet reacted.
"Anyway, go and take a look at the iceberg before I ask you guys some questions and telling you both what to do next,"
Robbie and Mullet look at the large iceberg poster properly, where the conspiracies are printed next to the image – explaining each topic. As what Alco-san's saying, there's an inscription on it says:
The 30 Iceberg Conspiracy
(There might be more than 30 in reality.)
Robbie's eyeballs track through each word on all of the topics. Starts from the surface level to the deep darkness section. He goes silent for 10 minutes as his brain consuming the information on the iceberg until his mind eventually caught up with topics number 8, 26, and 30.
"Alright. I'm done," Robbie glared at Alco-san.
"Me too," followed Mullet.
"Alright," Alco-san rubbed his hands, "Now tell me what you kids have experienced,"
"Me first," Mullet green-flags the conversation again after being awkwardly silent or 15 seconds, "I've experienced the worst nightmare in last 17 years. I feel like all the pain that pierced my flesh was real. Too real if that was a dream, tho. What I dreamt about last night is I woke up and met the shadow person again. But what I went through afterward was the worst,"
"I got impaled, my feet got stuck in spikes, then I got crushed by walls approaching me. But the worst thing is, My family got mauled to death by a freaking brushcutter! I had to watch them die!"
Mullet took a breath as his emotion overwhelmed him, "But apart from that, I got a message from other people,"
"Who is it?" Alco-san asked.
"Taro-senpai. He told me the consequences if we stay for 2 months. And it'll be horrible,"
"What kind of consequences anyway?" Robbie cuts him.
Mullet explains everything that Taro-senpai told him in his dream, where the nightmare is similar to when Robbie when he was apprehended by the bullies back in day 5 (with the time set at night).
"And that's all," Mullet stopped, "Talking about my nightmare. Is it similar to topic 29? The painful and shared nightmares with messages inside?"
"Hmm…" Alco-san thought for a moment, "How about you, Robbie?"
"Me? Well… I have the same dream as him, minus that gruesome hell moment," Robbie replied.
"Well... yes. You're right. You're talking about topic 29. It's the topic where the newly "third eye people" like you guys are having such a hellish nightmare. You might feel the pain like in real life. But you will not die because everything's not real," Alco-san explained.
"If it's not real, then how could the pain was too real to be a dream?" Mullet scrunched his eyebrows, "Your words are convoluted, Alco-san,"
"Let me tell you. In this case like you having drugs and its effect went malfunctioning, where it was supposed to relieve you. Instead, the drug corrodes your nerves like Fluoroantimonic acid,"
"Okay. I get it, but excuse me, what the what?! Fluoroantimonic?!"
"You better inject him PTFE aka Teflon, Alco-san," Robbie snickered, "Just in case to make him alive,"
"How about you, Robbie?" Alco-san glared at him.
"Me? Apart from the painful and shared nightmares, I don't experience anything like him," Robbie answered, "But what I want to ask you is the number 8, 26, 27, and 30,"
"I may not an expert drug investigator, but I'll try. Speaking about "Don't consume the white brick," does that means the school owns cocaine?!"
"Yes, indeed. The school owns cocaine, and nobody knows. Even police," Alco-san answered with a smile.
"Good god… how?"
"I don't even know, kid. But it doesn't matter,"
"The second one, topic 26. It says the school has an advertisement. But what kind? And what secret has been leaked apart from the devil's pact or something?"
"TV and radio commercial, sponsors, internet ads, and pop-up. However, all of them went wrong since the first commercial making, where two cameramen accidentally leaked the topic 21, 24, and 25. And it also related to topic 23,"
"What the…" Robbie muttered, "And last but not least. About topic 30. Why the school has no fate?"
"It has no fate since the school is opened," Alco-san frowned, "The school itself was built under the first pact. And the school's vested interest with the devil destroys everything. Including the future of this school that nowhere to be found anymore,"
"Whoa… shoot…" Robbie muttered, "Well, I have no further question,"
"Alrighty then," Alco-san turned around, "Hey, Jimi. Your turn,"
Jimi leaves his seat and approaches Robbie and Mullet while his right hand was holding something. The light that comes from the big screen generates his tall shadow along with the light that changes color.
"Are you dudes are satisfied with the club poster? Wanna join?"
"Yeah. Good one, Jimi," Robbie replied, "So what you got for us?"
Jimi opened his right hand, where 6 pieces of Arcadium coin is inside of his right palm, "This might help you,"
"Arcadium coins?" Mullet scrunched his eyebrows, "Aren't the entire arcade has no more using coins?"
"They're still using it for games that were released in 2012 and older. So, I want you to go take a look at any old Arcadium games in this city and try to insert these coins. If you're lucky enough to get an arcade machine with a high anomaly, that's your portal,"
"Alright. Number one. If you're talking about any Arcadium games, does that means we need to check it at every single mall in this city? Number two, what portal? And number three, where it will take us? And number four is why do you give us these coins?" Robbie asked.
"Well…" Jimi puts his thumb under his chin, "yes, indeed. You had to look at all Arcadium games at every single mall. And the other three is… you guys will find out. But I'm going to tell you. You don't have much time, and all you had to do is get every kind of information and everything that you can,"
"So… you mean it's like we're going to the military area and steal any information as we can?" Mullet asked
"Yep," Jimi nodded.
"I guess it's gonna be a long and suicide mission then…" Mullet sighed
"It doesn't compare to your last mission, tho – destroying the pact and move to another school while you can,"
Robbie shares three coins with Mullet just in case if he lost all of the coins when trying.
"That's all we can say to you," Jimi smiled, "I think it's better to find that Arcade-shaped portal now. You know, faster more time saved, ya know?"
"That means… can we go now?" Mullet asked.
Mullet and Robbie glared at each other as a sign of agreement. After a moment of gazing, the duo walked out of the surveillance room, but only to be halted by Jimi for one last time.
"Oh yeah! I almost forgot. By the way, who will enter the portal ?"
The duo silenced for a moment as they think about the horror that will ambush them while traveling the other dimension.
"It's gonna be me," Robbie raised his hand.
"Good," Jimi replied, "Robbie before you go, take off your phone and your watch. Bring any stuff you need except gadgets. And second, Mullet. Start the timer when Robbie's preparing the portal. Don't go away, and don't let anyone enter the arcade game, including him,"
"Thanks for the heads up, Jimi," Mullet smiled.
They walked away from the abandoned house in the forest. The city atmosphere welcomed them back as they stepped out of the woods. As Jimi's suggested, they decided to go to the malls that located at the downtown and start seeking the arcade game that has "anomaly" inside.
Robbie looked at the watch, where the time is still 10:55. They wait at the bus stop until 11:15, where the same white-blue bus met them with no passengers inside.
It doesn't take more than 20 minutes to reach downtown, where they arrived at The Glory Mall bus stop. Without waiting, they stepped into the mall as fast as speedrunning. The atmosphere shifts quickly as it switchover to the mall.
Meanwhile, Robbie recalled his memory, where he and the gang have visited the mall before. They're all having fun together as nothing happened. Nino planned the shops they will go to. He, Mullet, and Shouko searching for a new novel in Kurteen's, buying a new game, and finally, having fun at the Arcadium, where their purpose is now different. What a good time back then…
"Robbie," Mullet called him, "do you remember the time we hanging out here after school?"
"Yeah. I guess early days are wonderful, you know?"
Robbie and Mullet entered the lift in front of the information center. After ten seconds of waiting in front of it, The door opened, and some people are coming out – transferring its passengers. After a few seconds later, they arrived at the second floor, where Arcadium is located there.
"Let's take a look at all of these games," Robbie whispered, "I am clearly sure if these are counterfeit coins. Let's see for any games released older than 2013, including basketball games, bowling, and anything,"
"How do you think it's fake?" Mullet asked.
"Look," Robbie shows the coin, "The coin is printed "Est. 1990". The real ones are roman numerals,"
The short explanation quickly acknowledges Mullet, although he used the card since the first time he registered.
Without wasting time, they examined each arcade game released older than in 2013. However, Robbie and Mullet had to keep their behavior when the workers are noticing them. They inserted a coin into each arcade game that was released prior to the year. But unfortunately, no one of the arcade games was looks so glitchy. All of them just display the fake coin screen, and the coin itself was ejected. None of them…
"Let's go to another mall," Robbie pats Mullet's shoulder.
"How many malls in this city have?"
"Five," Robbie rejoindered, "Three of them are here, ones at the beach, and the other one at the entertainment district, K-Rock district,"
"For real?!" Mullet surprised.
"Yeah. It's gonna be a long day,"
It's gonna be a long day
"It's still 12 noon. We still have more time," Robbie looked at his watch.
"Ugh… fine," Mullet scrunched, "I wonder what they're doing right now while we're skipping school today,"
They finally walked out of the mall after there's no "designated" arcade machine in The Glory Mall. They proceeded to the Junction Center and Usagi Mall, which they directly do the same thing. But sadly, the portal itself was 404.
They decided to take a bus to the Popular Circle mall at the beach, which is the best mall originated from the United Kingdom and was established in 1981. They take another 20 minutes to reach the nearest stop at the beach as there's no traffic hinders their route.
"Yo, Mullet. I guess we're the first one who reached here," Robbie spoke in a whisper.
"Yeah. And anyway…" Mullet chewed a chewing candy into his mouth, "I still wanna know what our friends are doing at school right now. It's 2 PM,"
"I don't know. I don't want to know," Robbie repeats his words, "Let's not talk about the school and our friends. Let's focus on the goal that we had to do right now,"
"Alright, Robbie," Mullet offers his chewing candy, "Want some?"
Looks like we're almost there
The bus pulled over like a race car. The braking of the bus pulled the passenger forward due to the inertia power. The cold air in the bus will change with the heat from outside when Robbie and Mullet walked out of the bus. Added with the outside crowd that stabilizes the atmosphere of the beach.
The duo walked into the Popular Circle Mall, the second-best mall in the city after the Glory Mall. The building itself has 5 stories, including one underground floor for the supermarket and parking lot.
They stepped into the mall, where the doors slide automatically like a subway. Before they're proceeding to the Arcadium, Robbie and Mullet decide to go to the information center to see the map of the mall. It didn't take too long for them to find its location. Third floor, west branch.
After 2 minutes of walking, they arrived at the Arcadium center, where it was located at the west branch on the third floor. Robbie takes out the three coins again and starts searching for any arcade games below 2013. However, they had to be cautious with their behavior because some securities are patrolling the game center.
Unfortunately, the portal that they wanted is not there. All of them are remain the same, where the anti-fake coin system caught their dirty hands although the security didn't see them (or maybe they see it).
"Ugh! Darn it! Which one is the portal?!" Mullet grunted.
"Calm down, Mullet. There's one mall left we didn't check out. But this time, let's go to the Bucks coffee. I'm thirsty, dude,"
Suddenly, a glimpse of a person caught Mullet's eyes to see her. He quickly startled and his weary aura distracted by the unsettling person that he saw.
"Robbie! Did you see it?" Mullet pats Robbie's shoulder repeatedly.
"There," Mullet points his finger to an empty space next to a basketball arcade machine, where there was nothing.
"What. You find something unfamiliar?"
"It could be. But I'm pretty sure she's from our school,"
"Calm down. Let's get down to the Bucks," Robbie whispered, "Follow me,"
Robbie escorts Mullet quickly and safely down to the second floor like a guarding a president, where they decided to the Bucks coffee to have a drink before continuing the next mall.
After they arrived at the Bucks, Robbie orders his favorite drink, Mocha. While Mullet orders Café latte. They didn't talk to each other as they knew that they had to go quick.
Suddenly, Robbie caught a glimpse of someone, where her appearance is familiar to him. Mary?!
"Dude! Mary!" Robbie moves his head, aiming at something behind a tall plant. But as same as Mullet, no one's there except people is passing by.
"Mary?" Mullet whispered, "I told you, dude! That's what I saw back in the Arcadium!"
"Forget it. I think we need to get outta here. Come one, finish your drink. I have a bad feeling about this,"
"What do you mean?"
"I think someone's after us. We better get outta here!"
They finally reached the entertainment district of the city. Robbie looked at his watch, where the time shows 15:23, thirty minutes have been passed since they left the Popular Circle.
Without waiting, they walked into the fifth mall in the city, where they do the same plan. Looking for the Arcadium's location at the info center, then rushed to the Arcadium quickly. As usual, It didn't take too long for them to find its location. Fourth floor.
The Arcadium here is less crowded than the rest of the mall. It can be roughly counted only about 10 people are visiting this arcade center (excluding the employees, Robbie, and Mullet). But the drawback is, there's are CCTVs monitoring any suspicious movements.
Robbie's sight was suddenly stolen by an arcade game named Ghost Shooter III. A VR type rail shooter arcade game released in 2012. The shape itself looked like a booth, so the player can play the game privately without being seen by the others.
"Mullet," Robbie pats his shoulder, "Let's go to that game first,"
They rushed to the arcade game and opened the door inside. The game itself has VR and its controller attached to it. Luckily, the coin slot is still there – letting any players use the coin or the card.
"Let's try this one,"
Robbie inserted a coin into the game, and suddenly the screen glitches and shows:
6C 65 61 76 65 20 6E 6F 77
A voice can be heard while the game still shows the error code, where it barely understandable due to the sound was whimpering and stammering:
"You're? enter? the-"
The voice abruptly changed by another disturbing stutter. This item, featuring an apparition of a faceless girl bathed by a light above her. The apparition only lasts for a second before the game system was forced to restart. Is that Shion?
"Mullet! Let's check the other games first," Robbie tries to clarify if this arcade machine is the right portal.
Mullet obeyed his friend, and they separate ways to every single arcade game. They inserted the fake coins inside to make sure there's no unwanted glitch planted inside. And as they expected. All of them are showing the Anti-fake coin screen.
They walked back to the Ghost Shooter III arcade and entered it without playing it.
"I'm going to call Jimi," Robbie pulls his phone and presses the contact app. A moment later, Jimi's voice comes out of Robbie's phone – answering him.
"Jimi, I found the portal here," Robbie glares at the arcade's name, "It's Ghost Shooter III, VR-style arcade game,"
"Good. Now listen. I got the information about the portal. Robbie, when you're accessing it, make sure you insert three coins. Wait for the error screen to finish twice until you put in the third coin. And then, prepare the VR, and just stay there until the arcade takes you. Remember, you only have 15 minutes 44 seconds since you entered the first coin. So make sure you make a great plan before entering the portal. It will take some time to get into the other dimension, and is also the same as you left it,"
"What do you mean?"
"It will be a long access route until you get there. It same as you go back and forth to the school by sprinting. It's gonna be a long and dangerous route."
"The Plexus of The School, Robbie. And tell Mullet to plug off the game system when you're back. Remember, your role here is an intruder. So stay unnoticed,"
"What happened if I'm late?"
"Worst things happen. Probably you're gonna be part of the game system, maybe?" Jimi answered, "Now I gotta look at these screens again. I noticed some anomalies spiking your way back home. So, pick the alternative route. Oh, don't forget to bring a notebook to write anything you got,"
BEEP BEEP BEEP
"So what did he say?" Mullet glared at Robbie.
Robbie exit the Ghost Shooter III arcade and peeked at the back of the arcade, where there's a power jack attached to its socket.
"Mullet," Robbie opens the door, followed by Mullet walking out.
"Listen to me. The time that we have is 15 minutes, 44 seconds. I will give you my phone and my watch. Once I put the first coin, start the timer. Don't leave the arcade and don't let anyone gets in,"
Robbie took a breath before continuing, "Believe me that I will back before the time runs out. Once I came back, plug off the game system, and we're done,"
"Thanks for the heads up, Robbie," Mullet nodded.
"Yeah… and it looks like we can't do it right now. I will plan my mission to get there. Anything about what should I bring and what should I do. For this time. Let's take another route back to go home,"
"Someone's after us,"
Let's see what should I bring in my bag tomorrow…
To be continued…
And that's all for chapter 25.
Sorry for the late update. Yup. I recently have some works to do, and I clearly don't have time to continue this story. I might decided to be hiatus for this time (maybe yes. But maybe no either.) I dunno when I'll be back, but I will continue this story until it finished. Sorry guys T_T
There's no advice today. I rescheduled it until our next meeting.
Thank you for reading and I hope you guys having a good day!