Simon Says is the eleventh chapter in Lissa's Game High fanfic, Pixels and Polygons. It can be read below.
Simon Says Edit
Now, to the staff’s credit, they were trying their hardest to make everything seem normal. But this was harder then it seemed, especially now that Dr. Lobe was ever so suddenly missing.
Mr. Walker would still speak of science, now on the unit of horticulture and strange and unusual plants, but the rings around his head seemed to always be spinning a little faster. Dr. Shrunk still told his tangents and anecdotes, but they seemed quicker, a little more nervous. Mr. Weber’s magic lessons were getting on the self-defensive side, even aggressive. All the while, Master and Crazy Hand kept their insistence that everything would be solved, that they’d all come back, that nothing was wrong. Just a small...A small glitch in the system, they’d assure both staff and students over the PA, nothing they couldn’t iron out. Nothing as bad as the Missingno. incident, and they solved that, didn’t they? It would all be fine. All be fine. All be fine.
Vanessa had gym class with Sofia, and it was there the fox showed the Spaniard the strange glitchy noise her spider had picked up. Sofia told Simon when she passed him in the hall. Simon told Takashi as the two made their way to English. Weaponology was near the corridor that the choir room was located, so Takashi was able to catch Honey and tell her. Lastly, Harold was caught by all five of them at their lunch table, since he had the habit of always being there first. Takashi, Simon, Honey, and Sofia all attempted to begin telling him about it--But he already knew, of course, since he roomed with Vanessa and heard it himself. They all sat down, and Vanessa took out the offending pencil and played the recording of the strange glitchy noise once, twice, then three times.
“...Do you think it’s really a glitch in the system?” Takashi eventually ventured to ask, “That sounds like it is...Maybe a wall opened up and swallowed him or…”
“Except it comes closer,” Vanessa said with a frown, playing it once more. Everyone noticed now, clearer than ever, that the subsequent white noise did indeed get louder momentarily before ebbing away. “So it would have to be able to move.”
“A student?” Honey rose her eyebrows, suddenly intrigued, shifting her weight. “Sounded pret-ty mechanical to me. Y’think it’s those Portal saps? Ooooh, I knew they prob’ly had somethin’ to--”
“They’re not the only robots here.” Simon interrupted her quickly, frowning. “There is always HALE...Ctrl...Even Telly.” This last suggestion was met with flat looks and disbelieving aside glances, and Simon shrugged, his stance slowly becoming a little more defensive. “Well, Telly is a robot. Counts.”
Vanessa shook her head with the smallest of eye rolls. “We would hear the propeller if it was Telly.”
“Beg your pardon. Just had to be accurate.”
A small sigh from Vanessa, and she cast her eyes on everyone in the group in sequence. “Anyone else think it’s Telly that’s going around making people disappear and/or murdering them?” Her voice was layered thick with sarcasm, and nobody replied to the affirmative, though there were a few stray chuckles. The spy hummed with approval. “That’s what I thought,” She smiled, and Simon lowered his eyelids, grumbling to himself.
Takashi dumped the little chocolatey bits into his raspberry yogurt, stirring it up, humming in thought. “...This kind of kills our theory, doesn’t it?” He pointed out, spooning some yogurt into his mouth. “The--The ‘it’s because they die in the end’ theory. Dr. Lobe doesn’t die. Actually, I’m not sure what he does.”
This was, indeed, true. Everyone must have known this, at least subconsciously. It still did hurt to hear it said out loud, though. Simon slumped slightly, upset over this, and Harold awkwardly slid his biscuit towards him as some sort of comforting gesture. He took it, biting into it. Hard, dry, and stale. More Honey’s tastes than his, but he gave Harold a small smile of thanks. Thought that counts. Harold smiled back, and the pirate shifted his weight, trying to think of another connection. Two teachers, two students, people vanishing faster and faster…
“We’ll juss’ have to get a new theory!” Offered Sofia, shooting Simon a big reassuring grin. “I mean, really, who’s better at puzzles then Simon?”
“...Who’s better…!” This statement made his eyes light up, and his head whipped around back towards Vanessa, a grin of his own going over his face. “Move your spider. I got a plan.”
“Oh, this is a complete and utter disaster! We’re practically good as dead! May L.O.G. have mercy on our souls--”
“Cool it, Shrunk, nobody said we’re goners yet.”
“Yes, very easy for you to say, Patty! You’re all--Professional! A cop! Me, I’m just a humble little comedian trying to make ends meet, I don’t know the first thing about protecting myself! Slice-of-life genre!”
A beat, a loud sigh. “Don’cha worry, Shrunk, it’s cool.” The sound of static, the click of a button. “Birdland? This is Officer Wagon, come in Birdland. Shrunk’s flippin’ his lid (a muffled “Hey!”), so please tell me you got some info on Lobe.” Some staticy noises, a deep voice, words only the cop and her years of working with less-than-ideal equipment could decipher. “Nothin’? Nothin’. Great. Well, you report back if you find somethin’, got it?” The muffled deep voice once more, and then, a pause. “Really?” The cop sounded genuinely surprised. The muffled deep voice said a few things that could only have been confirmation, as her next words were, “Well, if Voltar says so...Thanks, Birdland, keep investigating. Over and out.” A click.
“Well? Wh-what did he say?”
“...No fingerprints. Birdland dusted, Voltar confirmed. Baseball, syringe--No prints on ‘em.”
A loud, dramatic, overblown gasp. “B-but...How’s that possible?”
“Very easily, with gloves,” A third voice was suddenly in the room, this one smoother and far more calm than either the cop or the comedian. “Magnilde Klug could gain access to rubber gloves very easily. Now, why, that’s what I’d like to know.”
“Yeah, but it’s her syringe. ‘S got the logo.”
“Certainly a nurse’s aid with a fondness for enchantments could get her hands on a number of ways to remove prior fingerprints. However, I sincerely doubt her guilt. Has anyone consulted with Weber?”
“Birdland tried. His answers were inconclusive at best.”
“Naturally. Though I doubt his guilt as well, I’d recommend slipping him some truth serum. Just a precaution.”
“W-wait!” Some baffled sputtering. “You don’t think he had any hand in this!?”
“How could he?”
“I don’t know, he’s Weber the L.O.G.-forsaken Trickster? Big bugs and blackmail and nitroglycerine? Heeeeeeeello?”
The smoother voice chuckled, the emotional comedian huffed. “And that is where you’re wrong,” Said the former voice, “It is unwise to rely on past experiences. Weber’s motivations lie in what would be the most fun for him at any given moment. Now, if these were people he had a personal vendetta against--That would be reasonable. But Guybrush Threepwood and Dr. Lobe were the least of his concerns, not to mention the students. Thus I doubt his guilt.”
There was a pause, a slightly mechanical shift in stature. The cop began speaking again. “Alright, Layton. You’re pretty smart, you like puzzles. What’chu got, then?”
“I thought you’d never ask.” A chair is moved back. Footsteps begin to move back and forth, pacing incessantly. “Now--CarnEvil, Monkey Island, Puppeteer, Big Brain Academy. This is a puzzle of relations; and, helpfully, a rather simple one. This is not about who’s disappearing, but rather, where they’re from. Monkey Island was officially canned when LucasArts went under. Puppeteer was generally cast aside and forgotten. CarnEvil was an arcade game with no home ports. Big Brain Academy was deemed largely superfluous when Brain Age did what it could do, and possibly better. You see?” A pause, in which nothing confirming was said, indicating that they didn’t. A small hum of intrigue from one of them, feminine sounding enough to be the cop. “It means,” The smooth voice went on, it’s back and forth pacing ceasing. “That our perpetrator is specifically targeting games that time doesn’t care for--Games that will obtain no sequels.”
A potent sort of pause, his solution sinking in. A click of a button, the cop relaying this theory to the deep static-covered voice on the other end. “Phew!” The comedian sighed almost comically loud, chuckling in relief. “Means I’m safe, right? No way they can get me, not with New Leaf around!”
A disapproving hum at his cheeriness. The chair is slid back into place. “Indeed. Though it leaves more than a few...Probable victims. Weber, Fred Bonaparte, Telly Vision, Miriana, Pudding...Even yourself, Officer Wagon.”
The button clicks again. “Concern is flattering, Layton, but I can handle myself. Between me and Birdland, we got this covered. Nobody’s gonna be taking me.” A pause. “I’m gonna go check on ‘em. Tell ‘em. Make sure they don’t flip out too bad. An’ the students? Do we announce this?”
The smooth voice sighs low. “...Of course. Make no haste in telling both Master and Subordinate Hand--Though assure them it’s just a theory, a probable answer to a puzzle. We don’t wish to cause mass panic, considering we’ve been so open and accepting to the obscure before this.”
“B-but--So--What do we do then? Who’s taking them--Or--What? D’ya know, Hershel?”
“Regrettably I don’t. Officer Wagon? See if Magnilde and Outfielder can be interrogated once more. Get anything you can out of Voltar--I fear how long he’ll stay. Next time one of them flakes into static, ends up beaten, kidnapped, stolen away...We’ll be ready.”
A pause, a click, a few more words to relay these instructions. Then, a pause. An inquisitive hum from the cop. The female’s voice got louder suddenly: “...Well, ain’t this a weird spider.”
“The bug went dead.”
All six of the students had crowded around the remote that was playing the conversation in the teacher’s lounge. ‘Was’ being the operative word. There had been a small click, and now, all the spider’s remote played was an idle white noise. Vanessa frowned hard, flicking through the camera displays on her wristwatch. “And now they’ll probably use it as evidence. L.O.G. help me if they think I’m the perp…”
Everyone but Vanessa, meanwhile, looked...More than a little uncomfortable about what they heard. Harold was tittering about, giving reassuring pats and big smiles to all of his anxious companions, though he himself didn’t look too confident either. The medieval boy swallowed, subtly adjusting his sleeves, casting looks to his friends; looks that were either very reassuring or desperately begging for reassurance of his own, depending on how the light hit his face.
“...I’m safe.” Sofia said so very softly, rubbing her arms. “Little Mac is in Smash. That means that everyone remembers me.” She most certainly didn’t sound too pleased in his fact, a petal or two on her beloved roses beginning to break and fall, as though they could reflect her own anxiousness. “...S-so I’m fine.”
“Smash counts, then I’m cool, too.” Honey’s hands went behind her head. “Sure, it’s more WarioWare then Wario Land, but still. Not quite in the can.”
Both these observations were met with an uncomfortable silence. Honey and Sofia looked back towards the other four, a small knot growing in their stomachs. Takashi, from an RPG reduced to cameos. Simon, from a puzzle game nobody acknowledged. Vanessa, from a children’s game whose company went under. Harold, from an arcade game that, while revolutionary, wasn’t modern. Three of them, the boys, looked forlorn. They knew their position, they knew they weren’t in the clear. Vanessa, meanwhile, was desperate to distract herself. When the cameras wouldn’t suffice, she’d input equations into the calculator software on her wristwatch. Spies never showed their fear. Spies never showed their fear. Spies never…
“Triste.” Sofia’s apology could barely be heard, the words catching in her throat. One of Harold’s hands tensed, and he skittered over to the Spaniard, giving her comforting pats and giant, comical, faked smiles. “Gracias, Harold, pero usted no tiene que hacerlo.” Her words, however, fell on deaf ears. Like Vanessa, Harold was too eager to distract himself, and he gathered the fallen petals from her roses and attempted to salvage something out of them. He tossed them up, letting them fall in a lovely little shower into her hair. A small laugh escaped her, and Harold beamed ear to ear.
Simon adjusted his coat, eyes drifting to his companions. “Well, a pleasure knowing some of us are saved,” He said, surprisingly not too upset with this. He wasn’t somber, nor pleased for their well-being--It was a mere statement of fact. “I suppose, then, we should be considering who our criminal is going to take next. We officially have a limiter...Not to mention more than a few doubts thrust onto our shoulders...”
Yet, unsurprisingly, nobody was in the mood to solve puzzles. Honey was the only one to remark this (“Look, pretty boy, you’ŕe the one who said Layton was better at puzzles then you, an’ if Layton says that’s the one connectin’ factor...”); but the fact was more subtly obvious with everyone. Vanessa’s gaze had moved to the PA speaker, almost waiting for Master or Crazy Hand’s voice to summon her to the office. Sofia was smiling, trying to keep her carefree spark with her--Mostly for the sake of Harold, who was trying to comfort them all and yet needed comforting the most. Takashi had begun humming, of all things. Perhaps it was some specific way to calm his nerves. The song was somewhere between a dirge and a lullaby, and he had just begun muttering the chorus (“Here’s a lullaby to close your eyes...It was always you that I despised...”) when Harold came up to Simon again. The pirate had vague irritation and upset in his eyes, and Harold reached up, fiddling with his bandanna until it was perfectly straight. Simon blinked, surprised by such an action, and Harold smiled. Simon brushed Harold’s hands away, adjusting the bandanna by himself. The medieval boy looked slightly hurt by this action, and hanging his head, he went back to Sofia. She was more than willing to give him words of encouragement, insisting that Simon sure could be mean sometimes, a hardhead and a stubborn brat, wouldn’t you say?
“So insignificant, sleeping dormant deep inside of me...”
The evil prince’s head twitched up, startled, his mutter-singing coming to a halt. Simon was in front of him quite suddenly, arms crossed. “Oh--Er--Yes, Simon?”
“I never got GG off your back for you, did I?”
Well, that was out of the left field. He shook his head, hands going to fiddle with his cape again. “Ah, no. No, I don’t think you ever really...Did.”
“This puzzle has begun to take up too much of my brain. I think, perhaps, I should begin doing more things for you. After all...” And here he gave Takashi a small smirk, “It’d be unwise not to help my wizard friend. If you’re going to go, I want you to go out knowing I helped you.”
Was this action flattering or conceited? He certainly couldn’t tell, but Takashi didn’t get the time to respond. Simon turned back around, facing the rest of the group. “That goes for all of you, too. If you want favors done--I’ll do them.”
Nobody replied. Actually, that seemed to be cue to leave the room, the atmosphere getting a little too overbearing for everyone to handle. Honey was first, shooting an offhanded goodbye to Simon, assuring him that favors were something she’d certainly milk for all they’re worth later. Vanessa stopped looking at her watch and the PA box, walking over to take Harold’s hand and gently lead him out of the room, though he was more than hesitant to leave. Takashi was last, his hands clasped behind his back and some idle shadowy magic trailing from his fingertips. He took a look at Simon, giving a small smile, saying that yeah--Favors were nice. Don’t worry about pleasing me, Simon. I’m going to be mightier than the god, I can help myself. He left. Sofia and Simon were alone in their dorm room.
“Favores?” Sofia finally asked, cocking an eyebrow. “Okay, I’m not claiming to be some expert in Mister Simon Centifolia, but that seems pret-ty weird. Heck’s goin’ on inside’a that head of yours?”
He didn’t reply at first, hands moving to adjust the pink rose that adorned his coat. “Call it…” He hesitated on the right words to describe how he felt. “Determination to not be so futile.” That sounded right. He stepped closer to the room divider, rubbing the back of his neck. “For, now we’re well aware that it’s only the futile that are being taken...And I don’t want to be the one who doesn’t live to see the end.” The pirate pushed the room divider aside slightly, casting a look over his shoulder at Sofia. “Going to do some homework. Take care of yourself.”
He vanished around the divider, and the PA crackled to life. Speaking was neither Master nor Crazy Hand, but the smooth, mechanized voice of Voltar: “...Would Miss Vanessa Foxglove please come to the guidance office for questioning? Thank you. The faculty would also like to give light to a theory presented to us by Prof. Layton; the theory being that obscure underground titles are more likely to be subject to the...Unfortunate circumstances that have been going on. Rest assured this is only speculation, however, knowing Prof. Layton’s track record with such mysteries of improbability--Well, it may be wise to take it into consideration. If any evidence is found supporting or denying this theory, it is to be brought to either Hand, myself, or Officer Wagon immediately. We thank you for your cooperation in this time of panic. To reiterate, would Miss Vanessa Foxglove please come to the guidance office for questioning?” It clicked off, and Sofia exhaled slowly, her mouth going into a lopsided frown.
She was safe.
Wasn’t she supposed to be happier about that?
Well...Oh, well. Her eyes went to the posters on her wall, of all the gorgeous men who’d stolen her heart, and she smiled at them. She shuffled around for her books, plopping down on her rumpled bedsheets and beginning to do her homework as well.
Funny, despite it all, the teachers still assigned worksheets.
Tomorrow, she told herself, she’d talk to Honey. They could work something out to make Simon feel less...What word did he use?...Futile. Cheer him up. It could be fun! They could throw a party and maybe she’d do a little bit of research on the game he’s from and he’d stop worrying about puzzles and his own less-than-stellar popularity status. Yeah. Yeah, it’d be great!
Tomorrow would be a good day.
The next morning, Sofia awoke to the cheery custom alarm she had blaring her father’s remix of her father’s game’s theme. She hopped out of bed, sliding on her red slippers, clicking off the alarm. She yawned, stretched, and picked up her roses from their familiar place on her desk. “Buenos días, Simon!” Sofia called, fingers working nimbly to thread the roses into her hair, her mind still bright and cheery from the elaborate fantasies she’d worked out last night.
But something was wrong.
The Spaniard paused for a long time. “Buenos días!” She repeated, but there was no reply. Was he wrapped up in his maps again? She chuckled to herself--That was the stubborn hardhead she knew!
Sofia stopped threading roses into her hair. She crept up to the room divider, then shimmied around it. “...I said, buenos días…”
Then she stopped dead.
Simon was not at his desk, engrossed in his maps.
Simon was not in his bed, sound asleep.
In fact, Simon wasn’t in the room at all.
Simon was missing.
First Chapter: We Begin by Entering
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Next Chapter: The Powers that Be